More Than 750 Charitable Agencies Representing All 50 States in the United States, Across Canada and Puerto Rico and in 10 Latin American Countries Come Together to Create Expansive Grass-Roots Giving Network to Directly and Immediately Give the Gift of Shoes This Holiday Season; Kids Start Shopping with Free Shoe Coupons
TOPEKA, Kan., Dec. 2 -- Leading family footwear retailer, Payless ShoeSource, announced today that more than 750 nonprofit partners located across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and in 10 Latin American countries have officially joined Payless in its Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program, a grass-roots effort aimed at giving more than $1.2 million in free shoes to children of families in need this holiday season.
Payless will give more than 77,000 gift coupons redeemable through Feb. 28, 2010, toward a new pair of kids' shoes at any of its more than 4,500 stores located in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and in Latin American countries including the Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua and Colombia.
Payless said that all the charity partners should receive their free shoe gift coupons by today along with a personal letter from Matt Rubel, chairman and chief executive officer of Collective Brands, Inc., the parent company of Payless, and LuAnn Via, chief executive officer and president of Payless, with a special request to get the coupons into the hands of the children that need them in time for the holidays. The quantity of gift coupons per agency is based on agency size and the number of constituents served and includes an average of about 100 coupons per charity partner. Many non-profit partners will also provide transportation for group shopping trips to the local Payless stores and already shopping trips have been coordinated for children in Los Angeles, San Juan and Cincinnati by charity partners.
"Kids have already started shopping for their free shoes," said Rubel. "Last year's program was truly amazing and we saw our charity partners coordinate directly with our local store teams to hold special shopping events outside of normal store hours -- many partners and store teams went above and beyond with special touches that included hot coco and other treats for the kids in addition to the free shoes," said Rubel.
"Already this year we've heard similar stories including NFL Hall-of-Famer, Anthony Munoz, and his foundation giving limo service and lunch for a group of second grade children in Cincinnati. Free shoes is an amazing gift to these kids, but to be able to shop with a super star athlete like Anthony makes it all even more special. We are thrilled with the hundreds of charity partners who are joining us this year in our massive holiday giving effort, and we look forward to seeing the smiling faces and hearing the heartfelt, inspiring stories that will result from this year's program."
The company launched the application phase for the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program on Oct. 15 with a call-to-action to the non-profit community to apply to be Payless partners in the shoe-gifting campaign to build a network of hundreds of localized organizations across the Western Hemisphere. This grass root approach is critical for immediate, direct access to kids in need at the holidays. In a 21-day application period, the retailer received nearly 3,000 applicants at its application website www.paylessgives.com and inquiries from nearly 37,000 visitors representing 109 countries across the globe. The application period is now closed.
Payless said its Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids non-profit network includes a total of more than 750 agencies: more than 670 charities in the United States, more than 70 in Canada, five in Puerto Rico, and 20 throughout Latin America.
"We were overwhelmed by the response from the non-profit community to join us in this important effort - to give a free pair of shoes to children in need this holiday season," said Payless CEO Via. "Our intent is to work with and through a diverse network of localized non-profits that have direct and immediate access to the children. Our chosen partners - more than 750 in all -- represent every state in the U.S., as well as organizations across Canada and in Puerto Rico and 10 Latin American countries in which we have stores. Together we've created a diverse international network of non-profits located in small towns, mid-sized and large cities, as well as rural areas so that we can blanket these countries and most effectively reach those in need."
Payless initiated the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program last year in response to the economic crisis, its impact on the underprivileged, the significant need across the United States for children's shoes, and to support smaller, localized nonprofits with a tool to assist them in helping those in need during the holidays. The retailer expanded the program internationally across the Western Hemisphere for 2009 because the need for children's shoes continues, the need is international and Payless is in a strong position to help.
A striking number of children don't have shoes that fit. Studies show that properly fitting shoes can enhance self confidence in children and aid in their proper development and growth. As well, with rising unemployment and food costs, it is difficult for parents to cover basic needs, thus making the holidays an even more stressful time for struggling families.
Greater Horizons of Kansas City, also a nonprofit, served as the independent third-party to manage the bulk of the selection process, based on Payless' core selection criteria, for the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids charity partners. For a complete list of the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids partners, please go to www.paylessgives.com.
About Payless & Collective Brands, Inc.
Payless ShoeSource, Inc., a unit of Collective Brands, Inc., is the largest specialty family footwear retailer in the Western Hemisphere and is dedicated to democratizing fashion and design in footwear and accessories and inspiring fun, fashion possibilities for the family at a great value. As of the end of second quarter 2009, the company operated more than 4,500 stores. In addition, customers can buy shoes over the Internet through Payless.com® at www.payless.com.
Collective Brands, Inc. (NYSE: PSS) is a leader in bringing compelling lifestyle, fashion and performance brands for footwear and related accessories to consumers worldwide. The company operates three strategic units covering a powerful brand portfolio, as well as multiple price points and selling channels including retail, wholesale, ecommerce and licensing. Collective Brands, Inc. includes Payless ShoeSource, focused on democratizing fashion and design in footwear and accessories through its more than 4,500-store retail chain, with its brands Airwalk®, Dexter®, Champion®, Zoe & Zac(TM), the first-ever affordable green footwear brand, and designer collections Lela Rose for Payless, Unforgettable Moments by Lela Rose, alice + olivia for Payless, Christian Siriano for Payless and STLP x Airwalk, among others; Collective Brands Performance + Lifestyle Group, focused on lifestyle and performance branded footwear and high-quality children's footwear sold primarily through wholesaling, with its brands including Stride Rite®, Keds®, Sperry Top-Sider®, Robeez®, and Saucony®, among others; and Collective Licensing International, the brand development, management and global licensing unit, with such youth lifestyle brands as Airwalk®, Vision Street Wear®, Sims®, Lamar® and LTD®. Information about, and links for shopping on, each of the Collective Brand's units can be found at www.collectivebrands.com.