Holiday Cheer: Major Retailers Launch Cause Initiatives

Macy's 'Believe'

Retailers aren't just starting the holiday discounts early this year -- they're even getting a jump on the warm-and-fuzzy part of Christmas: Macy's, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart Stores are all unleashing major cause-related initiatives.

Macy's is breathing new life into last year's "Believe" campaign, based on the famous "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" editorial. Like last year, it will open letter-writing "Believe Stations" in stores across the country, donating $1 per letter to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (Last year, it raised $1 million.)

To promote this year's effort, a new TV spot starring Queen Latifah will break Nov. 6, with the actress/musician guiding Virginia from her home to Macy's, where she can mail her letter. (Singer Carlos Ponce stars in a Spanish-language version.)



A 25-city Santa Tour starts Nov. 28, right after he finishes his gig in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The retailer has declared Dec. 11 -- the day its animated "Yes, Virginia" special airs on CBS -- "National Believe Day," which it says will "recognize and reward acts of kindness and generosity from coast to coast."

JC Penney has just announced that it will launch an online partnership with the Salvation Army, which it says will create the largest online angel giving-tree program. Shoppers at can enter their ZIP code and find someone's list, purchase the requested gifts, and have them shipped via FedEx to the nearest Salvation Army distribution center.

While the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program has been around for 40 years, the Plano, Tex.-based retailer says the high-tech version-- created in collaboration with Penney agency Razorfish, among others -- is "helping to modernize an American tradition, and creating an innovative way to help families in need in our communities across the nation."

Wal-Mart announced a massive food-related holiday effort: The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain says its holiday-giving initiative will provide $32 million in monetary and in-kind donations to charitable organizations across the country. It's working in partnership with Feeding America and Meals On Wheels.

The project kicked off with a donation of 35 refrigerated trucks from its Walmart Foundation, valued at $3 million. Loaded with the companies' private-label products and fresh apples, it went to Feeding America food banks in Miami, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Boston, Memphis and 30 other communities. The truck donation, which FA estimates will be able to transport 52.5 million pounds of food per year, came as a result of pleas from food banks, which struggle to safely distribute perishable food items.

In a release, the company says it plans to focus all its efforts in the holiday season on food-related causes. "In this economy, families and seniors across the country who rely on food banks have been hit especially hard," it says. "As Walmart stores continue to be the price leader on groceries, our partnership with Feeding America is helping us do our part to put more food on the dinner table."

Next story loading loading..