More than 44 million adult Americans are functionally illiterate. They can’t fill out a job application on their own or read to their children at night. Wal-Mart and SAM’S CLUB associates are doing something to help create a happy ending to that story.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is hosting a "Words are Your Wheels" Literacy Day nationwide on Saturday, April 12, to raise awareness for the fight against illiteracy. Every Wal-Mart store and SAM’S CLUB will announce a $1,000 donation to a local literacy-focused initiative, and will host a local author or celebrity for a book reading. In total, Wal-Mart stores and SAM’S CLUBS will give out more than $3.4 million in donations to thousands of local non-profit organizations or educational initiatives that are helping individuals in their local community learn to read.
"Wal-Mart and SAM’S CLUB associates are proud to join the effort to improve reading skills in our country," said Doug McMillon, executive vice president - merchandising for SAM’S CLUBS. "It is never too late to start." To date the company’s donations to local literacy efforts nationwide total nearly $7 million.
To celebrate the donations, local and national celebrities are joining forces with Wal-Mart and SAM’S CLUB associates by participating in book readings at the company’s stores and clubs nationwide. Celebrity readers include national and local authors, songwriters, playwrights, newspaper journalists, and television reporters and anchors. Nationally known authors scheduled to appear include: David Baldacci, Zig Ziglar, Dean Koontz, Joan Lowery Nixon and many others. The readings will take place at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 12 in the stores and clubs. Free bookmarks will be distributed to the first 500 attendees. (Editor’s Note: Please contact your local store or club to confirm celebrity reader appearance and time.)
Toll-free literacy help service
The "Words are Your Wheels" initiative also includes Wal-Mart’s national toll-free literacy referral service at 1-800-929-4458. This free service, which is available to receive calls from 7 a.m. - 11:30 p.m. CST, seven days a week, gives contact information to callers about literacy outreach organizations in their community providing reading assistance.
According to Betsy Reithemeyer, director of the Wal-Mart Foundation, the company has compiled and uses a database of more than 5,000 local literacy organizations, most of which provide one-on-one or small-group teaching services free of charge. "Our goal is to help as many people as possible hook up with a local non-profit or educational group that offers tutoring," said Reithemeyer. To date, the service has helped more than 13,000 people and averages 1,000 calls per week. The service has been operating since May 2002, added Reithemeyer.
About Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
With annual sales of $244.5 billion, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates more than 2,870 discount stores, Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets, and more than 520 SAM’S CLUBS in the United States. Internationally, the company operates about 1,275 units. Wal-Mart employs over 1.3 million associates worldwide. In 2002, Wal-Mart associates raised and contributed $200 million to support communities and local non-profit organizations. In 2002, Wal-Mart received the Ron Brown Award, the highest Presidential Award recognizing outstanding achievement in employee relations and community initiatives. In 2003, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. was named No. 1 on the FORTUNE magazine "Most Admired Company in the U.S." list.