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Since 2004, holiday shoppers throughout the country have generously supported the children of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital by giving during the annual Thanks and Giving® campaign.
Even a sputtering economy could not dampen the dedication of employees representing the more than 50 corporate partners who participated in the 2008 campaign. They encouraged customers to give to St. Jude through add-ons at the register or by purchasing specialty merchandise. As a result, millions of American consumers supported the lifesaving work of St. Jude despite gloomy economic news. Holiday shoppers purchased plush pandas at Kay Jewelers and chocolates at Target. At Kmart, Dick's Sporting Goods and AutoZone, they added donations to their purchases.
Those companies and others are poised to repeat that success this year when the sixth annual Thanks and Giving campaign kicks off November 27, the start of the nation's busiest shopping season. Created by Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas, the children of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, this national fundraising campaign has become a holiday tradition. The campaign's signature call to action—"Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not."—truly resonates with consumers.
During Thanks and Giving, people across the country will learn, through a series of print, broadcast and Internet ads, about the remarkable strides St. Jude is making in curing and treating catastrophic childhood diseases. Celebrity friends Jennifer Aniston, Robin Williams, Reggie Bush and Antonio Banderas will once again appear in television spots for Thanks and Giving. And the work of the hospital will be prominently featured on such network programs as NBC's TODAY show.
Thanks and Giving will have an added awareness dimension in 2009 to broaden its reach to the Spanish-speaking population. Joining the campaign this year is the popular Puerto Rican musician and actor Luis Fonsi, who will share the mission of St. Jude through the Spanish-language media.
Beginning in November, the Thanks and Giving magnifying glass logo will be prominently displayed in stores across the country and online, helping shoppers identify the retailers who are joining St. Jude in the fight against deadly childhood diseases.
Building on the success of previous Thanks and Giving campaigns, this year's effort will see an expanded Give thanks. Walk. program, plus a new online opportunity to raise funds and awareness for St. Jude. The program was held for the first time last year, when St. Jude supporters descended on shopping malls in 15 cities across the country for a 5K walk. This year's event will be held November 21 and has expanded into 40 markets.
New this year are interactive ways for people to individually tailor their support for the children of St. Jude. I give my voice encourages Facebook and Twitter users to post messages about their support of St. Jude and become online advocates for the hospital. Through I give my vision, visitors to the Thanks and Giving Web site can use YouTube to post videos detailing why they support the hospital or share existing St. Jude videos with others. Visitors to the Thanks and Giving site can also choose I give my energy and volunteer to fundraise on behalf of St. Jude and become online fundraisers for the hospital.
Throughout the holiday season, the Thanks and Giving campaign offers numerous opportunities to spread the word about how the work at St. Jude has changed treatments for cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases worldwide. With both science and patient care on one campus, St. Jude is the epicenter of pediatric cancer research and a unique resource for the global medical community.
The corporate partners and their employees and customers, the celebrity friends, the long-time supporters and donors to St. Jude, and everyone who is moved during the Thanks and Giving campaign to learn about St. Jude and support the hospital-all are a significant part of raising awareness about the importance of the St. Jude mission.
"This is such an important service, to let parents throughout the United States know about the research and treatment that is conducted at St. Jude," says Joseph Laver, MD, St. Jude clinical director and executive vice president.
"Every donation is a gift of hope to those parents."