Tots Get Toys At Near Record Highs

January 9, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

A Toys “R” Us holiday seasonal effort garnered $3.9 million and 325,000 toys for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation in 2013. The campaign was close to the Wayne, N.J.-based Toys “R” Us’s historical highs of $4 million in both 2012 and 2011. Those two years also netted 350,000 and 400,000 toys, respectively.

According to Toys for Tots Foundation vice president of marketing and development Bill Grein, total numbers are still coming in and should be available in early February. “We typically give (coordinators) about three weeks into January and we end up the last 10 days begging, pleading and threatening to get the remaining after-action reports,” he said.

Grein said early indications have total donations close to 2012’s record numbers of $49.1 million and 16.8 million toys distributed to 7 million children. “If anything, it’s most likely under and not over, but it’s tough to tell,” said Grein. He noted that corporate cash donations and toy donations were both down from 2012 in 2013, but could not provide exact figures. The Toys for Tots campaign wrapped up its 65th year in 2013.

Toys “R” Us assistant public relations manager Nicole Hayes said that the $3.9 million raised was at-register solicitations. More money came in online, though Hayes was unable to provide a total. “We had in-store signage featuring Shaquille O’Neal as Shaq-a-Clause and promoted (the campaign) in our social media channels,” she said.

New this year was the #NoWishTooBig social media campaign for Toys “R” Us. Children would draw pictures of toys they’d like to give to needy children, and for every picture Toys “R” Us received Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag, Toys “R” Us donated a toy to the Triangle, Va.-based Toys for Tots Foundation. The effort received about 700 submissions. “We were trying to give our customers a free and fun way to get involved in the campaign without actually having to donate,” said Hayes.

The Toys “R” Us “Wish It Forward” campaign entered its second year in 2013. “In the past few years, we started seeing anonymous donors coming into our stores and paying off other people’s layaways,” said Hayes. “We were very inspired by this. To continue the trend of paying it forward, we started to Wish It Forward with layaway.” For every layaway paid off by an anonymous donor, Toys “R” Us donated $200 to the Toys for Tots Foundation. The effort resulted in $119,000 in donations.

“We are so thankful for the generosity of our customers, as well as the steadfast support of our employees, during our Toys for Tots campaign this year,” said Kathleen Waugh, chair of the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund, in a statement. “It is gratifying to know that together, we have been able to bring joy to some of the more than 16 million children who continue to live in poverty in the U.S.”