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The search for cures to childhood cancers is an audacious task, one that St. Jude Children's Research Hospital could not begin to take without the generosity of individuals and companies across America.
Each year, ALSAC, the fundraising organization for St. Jude, recognizes the people and businesses that have gone above and beyond to help make the mission of St. Jude possible.
One such company is Kmart. This national retailer, along with its employees and customers, has demonstrated an incredible commitment to the children of St. Jude since the company became a corporate partner in 2006. As part of the annual Thanks and Giving® Campaign, Kmart asks its customers to add on a donation at the register, and the customers have responded tremendously for St. Jude. Nearly $17 million has been raised in the four-year partnership, with Kmart raising $6.9 million in 2009, making the company the highest revenue generating Thanks and Giving partner.
"Charitable giving is a huge part of our culture and something we strive to incorporate into everything we do in our stores and within our company," said Mark Snyder, chief marketing officer of Kmart. "Partnering with important organizations like St. Jude is a privilege and a relationship that we cherish. We wouldn't be able to give as much as we do, without the help of our devoted employees and customers."
This year also saw the highest honor St. Jude bestows—the Michael F. Tamer Award—presented to someone not only from the business world, but who is also the parent of a St. Jude patient. Michael Francis, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Target, received the award named for ALSAC's first chief executive officer and given to those have shown an abiding commitment to St. Jude. Francis has been a staunch advocate of St. Jude even as he and his family fight their own battle against a cancer that threatens his daughter.
Also honored this year was freight transportation provider Averitt Express as the Employee Giving Organization of the Year.
The philosophy of Averitt Express is "Our driving force is people." And nowhere is that more prevalent than in the compassion in which Averitt -associates have shown the children of St. Jude. Since 1990, Averitt Express and its -associates have taken the mission of St. Jude to heart, contributing more than $2.4 million to the hospital through Averitt Cares for Kids, which is funded via voluntary weekly payroll deductions of approximately $1 per associate.
Through, Averitt Cares for Kids, Averitt associates have completed an endowment of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Clinic at St. Jude, and they continue to be a "driving force" for the kids of St. Jude.
"Giving back to the communities in which we live and work has always been an integral part of our team's culture," said Tony Brown, service center director of Averitt's Nashville and Fayetteville, Tennessee facilities. "Averitt associates are proud of the role they play in helping support the lifesaving work that takes place at St. Jude every day. This recognition is a tremendous honor for us."
This year's New Partner of the Year award was presented to Window World, America's largest window replacement company. The company joined St. Jude in November 2008 and since then has raised more than $1 million for the hospital.
Window World kicked off the their "Opening Windows for the Kids of St. Jude" campaign at the 2010 Daytona 500, which featured the St. Jude logo on the cars of drivers John Andretti and Boris Said. The campaign, which raised $250,000 for St. Jude, united NASCAR fans and Window World customers with the mission of St. Jude and encouraged fans to call or text donations, or give by visiting the Window World website.
"Giving back and helping others in need has always been a big part of the Window World culture, but it's the remarkable employees and children of St. Jude who make us so passionate about this organization," said Tammy Whitworth, owner of Window World and co-founder of Window World Cares. "We're thankful for all those who joined us in supporting the mission of St. Jude. We know this is just the beginning of a very strong partnership."
"We are so blessed to have compassionate champions of the St. Jude mission who are dedicated to helping our doctors and researchers find cures and save children battling catastrophic diseases," said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude. "Their generous support brings us closer to achieving our founder Danny Thomas' dream of a day when ‘no child will die in the dawn of life.' On behalf of everyone at St. Jude, congratulations and thank you to all of our award winners."