Toys"R"Us®, U.S. Helps "Shine A Light For Autism" During Sixth Annual Fundraising Campaign to Benefit Autism Speaks
WAYNE, N.J., March 1, 2012 -- Toys"R"Us, Inc. today announced the launch of its two month in-store fundraising campaign to benefit Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. Now through Monday, April 30, monetary donations will be collected at all Toys"R"Us® and Babies"R"Us® stores and online at Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks.
The company is increasing its focus on autism awareness, unveiling a new theme, "Shine A Light For Autism." The campaign incorporates aspects of the Autism Speaks "Light It Up Blue" initiative, in which prominent buildings and landmarks around the world are lighted blue to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. The Toys"R"Us campaign offers some fun, simple ideas to help people "go blue" to demonstrate their concern for a disorder that impacts thousands children and families. To help "Shine A Light For Autism," Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks offers information about autism, as well as ways families can "Light It Up Blue." In addition, a special app on Facebook.com/Toysrus will help fans give their profile picture a blue hue.
"Since our partnership with Autism Speaks began six years ago, our customers and employees have embraced this cause, helping us contribute more than $12 million and assisting the organization in reaching significant milestones in research and family services," said Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys"R"Us, Inc. "Through this year's campaign, we hope to raise greater awareness for spectrum disorders, encouraging everyone to 'Shine A Light For Autism.'"
Shining A Light For Autism In-store
During the two-month campaign, customers can donate cash at all Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us locations and online at Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks. In-store signage displayed in "R"Us stores across the country features children with autism dressed as super-heroes, with the Autism Speaks puzzle piece logo as their powerful emblem. The puzzle pieces are bursting with light, as they "Shine A Light For Autism," while inspiring everyone to donate to the cause by looking to the hero within.
Customers also have the opportunity to take home their very own artistic interpretations of the in-store signage. Those who donate $10 or more to Autism Speaks at any Toys"R"Us or Babies"R"Us store will receive a reusable shopping bag designed by James Hogarth, a talented artist with autism, while supplies last. Each bag features an Autism Speaks super-hero, surrounded by beams of light.
"Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores across the country are in a unique position to reach countless parents daily, providing important awareness information about autism in their stores and online, including a list of early warning signs for the disorder," said Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks. "We are thrilled to have their ongoing support in our research and advocacy efforts as we continue our work toward solving the autism puzzle."
Lighting the Digital World Blue
In conjunction with the in-store fundraising campaign, the company has also created a dedicated microsite, Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks, which also features images of children dressed as super-heroes. Within the site, visitors will find information about the disorder, an interactive quiz about the warning signs for autism, and ways parents and children can "Light It Up Blue" on World Autism Awareness Day, such as "Dress It Up Blue" and "Bake It Up Blue."
Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks serves as a resource for parents, caregivers, families and friends of children with autism. Visitors can find a list of "Ten Toys That Speak To Autism," which provides toy suggestions to help guide anyone purchasing toys for a child with autism, as well as Safe Play Tips designed to help ensure the well-being of children on the autism spectrum, while encouraging the benefits of play.
"Light It Up Blue on Facebook"
To help Facebook members "Shine A Light For Autism" in the digital domain, beginning March 26 through the end of April, fans of Facebook.com/Toysrus and Facebook.com/Babiesrus will find an app that transforms their profile picture into a virtual autism awareness message. Those who visit the Autism Speaks tab on either page will receive instructions about how to tint their profile picture blue while helping them share a message with their friends and family, explaining why their picture has changed. Fans can also choose to swap their profile picture for one of several blue icons created by Toys"R"Us. Additionally, from March 26 through April 2, Facebook.com/Toysrus will also shine its own light on autism with a true blue redesign that will turn the page into a beacon of autism awareness.
Additionally, to ensure the light shines on Facebook, throughout the entire campaign, Facebook.com/Toysrus and Facebook.com/Babiesrus now feature information about the Toys"R"Us program, as well as the disorder, on a dedicated tab. Messages about the campaign will be posted on the company's Wall throughout the campaign.
Walking To Benefit Autism Speaks
In conjunction with the campaign, the company is also kicking off its national sponsorship of Walk Now for Autism Speaks, a year-long series of more than 85 walk events taking place throughout North America. "R"Us employees will walk alongside the company's iconic mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe, as well as individuals with autism, their families and friends to raise money and awareness. All funds raised through the Walk Now for Autism Speaks events will go directly to Autism Speaks to support research and advocacy efforts.
Since the partnership began in 2007, Toys"R"Us, Inc., the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund and customer contributions have combined to provide Autism Speaks with more than $12 million. Last year's in-store and online fundraising campaign raised more than $2.3 million for Autism Speaks in the U.S.
Additionally, Toys"R"Us, Canada will once again lend its support to the cause by collecting donations in its more than 70 stores and online at Toysrus.ca. Last year, Toys"R"Us, Canada raised $700,000 to support Autism Speaks.
Over the course of the partnership, contributions from the Toys"R"Us campaign have helped Autism Speaks develop several programs, including:
The Toys"R"Us Children's Fund also provided a $400,000 grant to Autism Speaks to launch the 2012 campaign.
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 110 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 600 percent increase in the past two decades that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.
About Toys"R"Us, Inc.
Toys"R"Us, Inc. is the world's leading dedicated toy and juvenile products retailer, offering a differentiated shopping experience through its family of brands. Merchandise is sold in 874 Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, and in more than 630 international stores and over 130 licensed stores in 35 countries and jurisdictions. In addition, it exclusively operates the legendary FAO Schwarz brand and sells extraordinary toys in the brand's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. With its strong portfolio of e-commerce sites including Toysrus.com, Babiesrus.com, eToys.com and FAO.com, it provides shoppers with a broad online selection of distinctive toy and baby products. Headquartered in Wayne, NJ, Toys"R"Us, Inc. employs approximately 70,000 associates annually worldwide. The company is committed to serving its communities as a caring and reputable neighbor through programs dedicated to keeping kids safe and helping them in times of need. Additional information about Toys"R"Us, Inc. can be found on Toysrusinc.com. Follow Toys"R"Us, Babies"R"Us and FAO Schwarz on Facebook at Facebook.com/Toysrus, Facebook.com/Babiesrus and Facebook.com/FAO and on Twitter at Twitter.com/Toysrus and Twitter.com/Babiesrus.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $173 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks' Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light It Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks award-winning "Learn the Signs" campaign with the Ad Council has received over $316 million in donated media. Autism Speaks' family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit, a Grandparent's Guide to Autism, and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government's response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 29 states thus far, with legislation continuing to advance in more states. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.