Gratitude and Generosity

From coast to coast, individuals and organizations are inspired to give thanks and give generously.

by Leigh Ann Roman

Gratitude and Generosity

During the last seven years, a holiday tradition of gratitude and generosity has developed, thanks to a special campaign in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. That tradition is the Thanks and Giving® campaign, an unprecedented union of corporations, retailers, celebrities and the media that asks consumers to “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.”

The response to this call to action nationwide has raised more than $247 million for St. Jude since the campaign was launched in 2004 by Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas, the children of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas. The campaign occurs annually in November and December.

This year, more than 60 brands will encourage their customers to give to St. Jude through add-ons at the register or by purchasing specialty merchandise during the traditional holiday shopping season. Kmart, the lead fundraiser for the 2009 and 2010 Thanks and Giving campaigns, will continue its support for a sixth consecutive year. Other committed partners include CVS/pharmacy, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Kay Jewelers, Williams-Sonoma Inc., ANN INC., Domino’s Pizza, AutoZone, Target, New York & Company and many more. The campaign is also excited to announce that Hammermill Paper (a brand of International Paper) and Claire’s Boutiques will be new corporate partners this year.

“The money raised from our dedicated partners and their customers is crucial to our continuing search for the cures that will save the lives of precious children in communities across the country,” says Marlo Thomas, St. Jude national outreach director. “And because of their boundless support, we are able to keep my father’s founding promise—that no child is ever turned away for a family’s inability to pay.”

Getting involved

Beginning in November, shoppers will see the Thanks and Giving magnifying glass logo displayed at stores across the country and online, identifying retailers who are helping St. Jude in the battle to save children’s lives. Employees at these companies will join in the effort to raise as many donations as possible to support the hospital.

The comprehensive nature of the campaign, with its many and varied ways to support the children of St. Jude, makes it easy for individuals to get involved. That is just what one young couple in Missouri decided to do. On Valentine’s Day 2010, David Feldman and his wife, Melissa, made a commitment to spend a year trying to make a difference in the world. They set out to use that time to raise money for St. Jude.

Feldman chose St. Jude because of the hospital’s mission and because the Thanks and Giving website made funneling donations to St. Jude simple and seamless.

“That was one of the big deciding factors, that the Thanks and Giving portal was already set up,” he says. “I was able to hit the ground running.”

With help from friends, family and co-workers, he raised more than $26,000 during that year. Although he hoped to raise more, Feldman is happy that his walk-a-thon, bowl-a-thon and other special events made an impact. “I feel like we made a difference,” he says.

In addition to the vital commitment of corporate partners that is the foundation of the Thanks and Giving campaign, Feldman’s experience shows the impact of individuals on the fundraising effort. The website offers many ways to get personally involved in the national campaign.

Donors can send e-cards in honor or memory of loved ones; they can join the campaign on Facebook; they can sign up to become online fundraisers, like the Feldmans; or they can register for the 5K kick-off to the Thanks and Giving campaign, St. Jude Give thanks. Walk.

As it raises necessary funds for St. Jude, the Thanks and Giving campaign also raises awareness about the hospital’s groundbreaking research and treatment through print, broadcast, outdoor and Internet ads.

Celebrity friends Jennifer Aniston, Robin Williams, Morgan Freeman, George Lopez, Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, and NBA player Dwyane Wade will join Marlo Thomas and the true stars of the campaign— St. Jude patients—in television spots and a movie trailer to share the St. Jude story. Theater partners, including Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and many more, share the St. Jude message of hope with movie patrons across the country.

The Thanks and Giving campaign continues to reach out to the Hispanic community, with the help of popular Puerto Rican musician and actor Luis Fonsi, who will again share the St. Jude mission through the Spanish-language media.

The work of the hospital will also be prominently featured on NBC’s TODAY show, where Marlo Thomas will appear for five consecutive days during Thanksgiving week.

“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who joins our Thanks and Giving campaign each year and gives so generously to support the lifesaving research and treatment being done at St. Jude,” Thomas says.

Promise magazine, Autumn 2011

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