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Marlo Thomas, national outreach director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, appeared on NBC's Today show November 20-24 to kick off the annual St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign.
Each day, Thomas presented stories of St. Jude patients fighting against childhood cancer:
Created by Thomas, along with her sister and brother, board members Terre and Tony Thomas, the Thanks and Giving campaign is an unprecedented coming together of celebrities, media, retail and corporate partners. This unique national program asks consumers to give thanks for the healthy kids in their lives and give to those who are not.
Timed as it is with the holiday season, the program resonates with retailers and shoppers alike. One of the most popular ways to participate in the Thanks and Giving campaign is to add a donation to St. Jude at checkout.
“Our corporate partners came up with the great idea of the add-on at retail, which is a very uncomplicated way for a consumer to contribute. And it gives a peek into the hearts of the American people, whose generosity is very inspiring to me,” Thomas says. “At CVS, for example, where the average purchase is $10, 1.8 million customers added a dollar for Thanks and Giving. Even though they’re making a small purchase, they’re willing to add a dollar to their bill to give to the children of St. Jude. It shows how the American public has embraced this campaign and the work of St. Jude. It’s very moving.”
Domino’s Pizza is another partner that participates in the add-on program for Thanks and Giving. The company has been with the program since its inaugural year.
“St. Jude has done an outstanding job of building excitement around the campaign and building awareness for all the corporate partners,” says David A. Brandon, chairman and CEO of Domino’s Pizza, who is excited to be back for the company’s third year. Last year, Domino’s raised $1.2 million during Thanks and Giving and helped raise awareness for St. Jude by printing the logo on millions of pizza boxes.
Merchandise offerings abound this year as well, ranging from the classic wrap dress by Diane von Furstenberg—who will donate $1 to St. Jude for each dress manufactured—to the huggable, plush puppy “Graham” from Kay Jewelers. Graham is eighth in a series of limited-edition collectibles offered to Kay Jewelers’ customers. The puppy’s ear tag and gift bag feature artwork created by St. Jude patients.
“Our participation in the Thanks and Giving campaign gives us an opportunity to help generate awareness and funds to help the kids at St. Jude,” says Terry Burman, executive chairman of Sterling Jewelers Inc., another partner in the program since its inception. “Year after year we see the remarkable life-saving work performed at St. Jude, and we are very proud of our partnership.”
Target Stores will offer stuffed elephant gift card holders, which will be featured prominently at the register. Cute and cuddly with huge, floppy ears decorated with snowflakes drawn by a St. Jude patient, these precious pachyderms will make great stocking stuffers. For every plush elephant sold at $2.99, a minimum of $1.50 will go to St. Jude (representing 100 percent of net profits).
Twenty companies joined St. Jude in 2004 for the inaugural year of Thanks and Giving, but with this year’s campaign, the number of corporate partners has ballooned to 42. New partners for 2006 include GNC, Coffee Beanery, Dollar General, Club Libby Lu, AutoZone, Sag Harbor, Gymboree and Saks Fifth Avenue, which has donated one of its world-famous holiday windows in six cities for Thanks and Giving. Snowflakes designed by patients are displayed in the windows of Saks stores in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, New Orleans and Atlanta.
Thomas attributes the program’s expanding success to the unique bond that is forged with each corporate partner. “We listen closely to our partners and actively seek their ideas. They’re experts about what works with retail, and we are blessed to be partnered with some of the most successful and innovative companies in the world.”
Williams-Sonoma Inc. joined Thanks and Giving in 2005 and saw immediate results. “The response far exceeded our expectations,” said Pat Connolly, its executive vice president and chief marketing officer. The company raised nearly $1 million in its first year through add-on donations and employee giving.
Indeed, retail employees are crucial in bringing Thanks and Giving to the customers’ attention. Brandon says the inspiring public service announcements really helped keep his Domino’s team members motivated to raise money throughout the entire campaign.
Several partners relate stories of customers who want to share with associates how their own lives have been touched by St. Jude. It’s a story that Thomas has heard again and again—and one that never fails to motivate her.
“I am invited to many of our partners’ national meetings and employee events, and I go to let them know how much their role in Thanks and Giving means to me and my family,” Thomas says. “And it’s amazing; I am always approached by people who tell me how they, or a family they know well, have been helped by St. Jude. They speak of a cousin or a neighbor or a friend at work—people who have been directly affected by St. Jude and the work St. Jude does.
“That’s very inspiring to me—to know how far our reach truly extends, and to hear, again and again, how St. Jude is the place families have been able to turn to when there seem to be no help or answers anywhere else.”
You can be a part of the fight against childhood catastrophic diseases by participating in Thanks and Giving. Make a donation today and shop where you see the St. Jude magnifying glass.
Visit our Thanks and Giving Web site for more information or call 1-800-4STJUDE.