To help support Toys for Tots, Kowalski’s Markets, a grocery store chain in Minnesota, has partnered with TEGNA’s KARE 11 for more than 20 years to collect toys for kids in need in the community. Kevin Carlow and Sara Nellermoe with KARE are here to illustrate just how great this relationship has been in delivering good to families in need during the holidays.
Every holiday season since 1947, the US Marines have delivered 604 million toys to 272 million less fortunate children through Toys for Tots. Such a noble cause, however, depends on the support of local business leaders, their partners, and the citizens of their local communities to donate and collect toys for the Marines to distribute.
One local business that helps support Toys for Tots is Kowalski’s Markets, a grocery store chain located in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas of Minnesota. They do so in a partnership with TEGNA’s KARE 11, which has partnered with Toys for Tots for more than 20 years to collect toys for kids in need in the community.
“Kowalski’s Markets has supported Toys for Tots for four years now, and we’ve been a presenting sponsor with KARE 11 since the beginning,” says Kris Kowalski Christianson, CEO, Kowalski’s Markets. “The drive perfectly aligns with our organization, a civic business, by giving our employees and our customers an opportunity to give back and to brighten the holidays for a child in need.”
To build awareness for Toys for Tots, KARE 11 promotes the charity on the air and even features a special Toys for Tots tent, which also serves as a donation drop-off location. As a co-sponsor of the event, Kowalski’s is featured in newscasts, 15 and 30-second spots, on KARE’s digital platforms including social media, and is integrated into the Toys for Tots tent at KARE 11 Studios.
Last year, even during the height of the pandemic, the campaign helped to get 102,000 toys donated, as well as $120,000.
“We greatly appreciate the work the Marines and KARE 11 have done with this program over the years, and we are proud to be part of it,” says Kowalski Christianson. “The Toys for Tots sponsorship truly feels like a partnership between our company, KARE 11, the Marines, and the community.”
Kevin Carlow, Account Executive at KARE 11, couldn’t agree more.
“I’ve been a part of Toys For Tots for a few years and when I see all the happy faces and positive energy of the people that come to KARE 11 to donate to the drive, that’s a darn good feeling,” Carlow says. “The best part about this drive is that it unites us all behind an important cause, from the station promotion on air to the sponsors collecting toys to the Marines receiving the donations and distributing them to local charities.”
Better yet, Carlow notes it’s a cause that everyone can get behind with universal appeal.
“I was speaking with Bob Kowalski (Kowalski’s Markets Director of Real Estate) in the donation tent a few years back and he said ‘the thing I love about Toys for Tots is everybody loves it. Men, women, old, young, even Ebenezer Scrooge likes Toys for Tots.’”
By aligning with charitable efforts and KARE 11, especially around the holidays, brands like Kowalski’s Markets benefit in more ways than one. Not only can they put a smile on the faces of children in the community, but they can also help brands looking to meet their year-end goals.
“Most businesses make a big push at the end of the year,” says Carlow. “So the timing to align with Toys for Tots makes a lot of sense for retailers right before the holidays.”
Sara Nellermoe, Local Sales Manager at KARE 11 adds, “Our call letters are synonymous with care, and it’s something we try to live up to every day. From a brand standpoint, the toy drive is something that’s brand-safe and groups sign up in droves to be a part of it. Everyone at the station genuinely supports the effort and the engagement with our community makes it all possible.”
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