As rebuilding efforts continue in the wake of Hurricane María, Kmart and Sears will sponsor a toy drive through its “Shop your Way” loyalty program in partnership with Major League Baseball player René Rivera.
The initiative, dubbed “Que ningún niño pierda la ilusión en esta Navidad (“Let no child lose the illusion this Christmas”) will benefit children in Puerto Rico who were affected by the devastating storm, organizers said.
Now through Christmas, all 28 Kmart and Sears stores in Puerto Rico will accept donations of new and gently used toys. “Shop your way” members who do not live on the island can give back by purchasing toy packs online or at one of 25 Kmart and Sears locations in Miami and the Chicagoland area.
Members can gift toy packs at $5, $10 or $20 increments; and “Shop Your Way” will match each toy pack purchased. The goal of the program is to gift 25,000 toys total this holiday season, organizers said.
“We care deeply about the residents of Puerto Rico and have remained dedicated to supporting their rebuilding efforts,” said B.J. Naedele, chief commercial officer, “Shop Your Way.”
“Keeping the spirit of Christmas alive despite the hardship so many Puerto Ricans still face is an idea that resonated with us, which is why we teamed up with René for this toy drive,” Naedele said. “As a shopping destination, we are well-positioned to help give families and children in Puerto Rico a merrier holiday.”
Rivera, free agent catcher who most recently played for the Chicago Cubs, has already pledged his commitment to his native Puerto Rico as the island continues to pick up the pieces post Hurricane María.
He and his wife, Mariel, will distribute collected toys to children across Puerto Rico Dec. 18-20. This follows Rivera’s launch of a GoFundMe page, which raised more than $39,000 for recovery efforts.
In addition, “Shop Your Way” has already gifted 25,000 pieces of Cubs apparel in partnership with Rivera as well as his teammates Javier Báez and Víctor Caratini to the island’s residents.
Before Rivera arrives in Puerto Rico, the catcher will host an event on Dec. 9 at the Kmart store on 8th Street in Miami to welcome those who have relocated from Puerto Rico to Miami — either temporarily or permanently — and help them get on their feet.
A second event on Dec. 16 in Rivera’s hometown of Bayamón, will serve as an opportunity to continue to distribute collected apparel and promote the toy drive, in addition to connecting with the community during this time of year.
“To see my hometown in ruins has been heartbreaking, but that feeling pales in comparison to knowing so many families are unable to celebrate the holidays because of their situation,” said Rivera. “Our goal for this toy drive is to bring these families joy, comfort and a break from their distress this holiday season.”