July 01, 2004
Thousands Assisted Through National Toll-Free Literacy Helpline: 1-800-929-4458
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wendy Sept or Sarah Clark
BENTONVILLE, Ark., July 1, 2004 Ð Wal-Mart and SAMS CLUB are celebrating National Literacy Day with a gift to their communities of nearly $6 million in grants to local literacy organizations. Wal-Mart is also beginning a drive to encourage members of the public to "help a friend on the road to reading" by calling its national literacy center toll-free at 1-800-929-4458.
Tomorrow, Wal-Mart will award more than 4,000 local grants to literacy organizations across the country that support the companys literacy initiative. Since Wal-Mart launched its national literacy initiative three years ago, the company has donated more than $16 million to literacy programs and served more than 40,000 individuals through its national literacy helpline. Nearly 16,000 students have been referred to literacy centers in their communities for individual assistance.
"Our helpline offers one of the most comprehensive database of local literacy groups available and makes it easy to get help for yourself or a friend," said Betsy Reithemeyer, vice president of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and executive director of the Wal-Mart/SAMS CLUB Foundation. "Reading is the gateway to the American dream of better jobs and a better life. Wal-Mart and its associates are pleased to offer this service to the community and help address literacy problems that could prevent our customers and neighbors from reaching their full potential."
Reithemeyer said more than 5,000 local literacy organizations participate in the helpline, and most provide one-on-one or small-group teaching services free of charge. The free and confidential helpline, which is available to receive calls from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. CST, seven days a week, gives contact information to callers about literacy outreach organizations in their community providing reading assistance. Assistance is available in English or Spanish. Information is also available at www.walmartfoundation.org.
"Illiteracy is a sensitive issue, and Wal-Marts helpline is an excellent tool to reach out to those who may feel too intimidated to ask for help learning to read," said Marsha Tait, senior vice president of ProLiteracy Worldwide. "Wal-Mart has already helped so many people, and its refreshing to see that the company is continuing its commitment to addressing literacy problems."
Literacy is one of many educational causes championed by Wal-Mart associates. Last year alone, Wal-Mart associates raised and contributed $40 million for a variety of educational organizations and programs.
Wal-Marts community involvement programs are based on the philosophy of operating globally and giving back locally. The companys grassroots style of giving enables associates at more than 3,500 locations across the country to identify and support organizations and causes that positively impact their local community. Wal-Mart and SAMS CLUBS award more than $150 million each year to organizations supporting local activities. With a focus on education, children and communities, Wal-Mart contributes Ð through the Wal-Mart/SAMS CLUB Foundation Ð more than $17,000 an hour, or nearly $5 a second every day of the year.
About Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and SAMS CLUBS in all fifty states. Internationally, the company operates in Puerto Rico, Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, Argentina and South Korea. The companys securities are listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges under the symbol WMT.
More information about Wal-Mart can be located on-line at www.walmartstores.com and www.walmart.com. The SAMS CLUB Web site can be accessed at www.samsclub.com. And more information about Wal-Marts Good Works community involvement is available online at www.walmartfoundation.org.