By: Jeremy Dickson, Apeksha Verma & Ryan Tuchow
These are challenging times, and in the face of job uncertainty and project upheaval, it can be overwhelming just to keep your head above water. But the kids industry is resilient, and organizations and individuals are increasingly looking for ways to support their audience.
If you’re looking for ideas on where to send your aid, here is a short, incomplete list of organizations that can use support, as well industry-led programs to spark some inspiration.
Founded by a former Hasbro team that launched the Joy For All companion pet brand for socially-isolated seniors, Rhode Island’s Ageless Innovation has teamed up with the Association on Aging in New York by distributing more than 1,000 animatronic pets. The goal is to combat the growing issue of social isolation and depression in New York State during the COVID-19 crisis. The interactive cats and pups are currently being delivered to nursing homes and care facilities throughout New York State’s counties.
The Bandai Foundation
The Bandai Foundation, the nonprofit arm of toyco Bandai America (Dragon Ball, Tamagotchi), has donated US$55,000 to local Orange County charities Second Harvest Food Bank and Court Appointed Special Advocates. As a member of US hunger relief organization Feeding America, Second Harvest supplied enough food in 2019 for a record 26.5 million meals, which fed more than 250,000 people monthly. CASA, meanwhile, is a privately-funded nonprofit that serves severely abused, neglected and abandoned children. Its volunteers provide advocacy, mentorship and representation of children’s best interests in the courtroom and other settings.
Florida-based toyco Basic Fun is donating 4,000 3M N95 surgical masks to hospitals, nursing homes and prisons in need of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic. Donation recipients across the country include JFK Medical Center Dialysis Department, Hardee Correctional
Vancouver, Canada-based BroadbandTV, a platform for IP owners focused on the distribution, management and monetization of content, has launched an online initiative called #FunIndoors that supports humanitarian medical organization Doctors Without Borders. The network is encouraging businesses and individuals to make donations to the organization, and post fun (or serious) videos on Instagram or Twitter that show how they’re making the most of their time inside using the hashtag #FunIndoors and a GoFundMe link. People are also encouraged to challenge their friends to donate and participate. Doctors Without Borders has been setting up temporary hospitals and providing technical training and logistical support to manage the spread of COVID-19 around the world.
Columbus, Ohio-based costume manufacturer Costume Specialists formed a partnership with the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) last week to provide 3,400 hand-sewn face masks for COTA employees. The company, which normally makes walkaround costumes for mascot characters, is also manufacturing isolation gowns and could potentially craft additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals. If people are interested in learning more can reach the company here.
Create Aid is an Instagram initiative where animators and artists in the children’s entertainment industry create art to be sold, with proceeds going directly to frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists first donate their art, then buyers can donate to a charity of their choice. More information can be found here.
The Illinois-based toyco has created luminary construction sets inspired branded with messages of inspiration and thanks for frontline workers. Aimed at kids three and up, the sets are available on the CreateOn website. The toyco is donating 20% of proceeds from every sale to nonprofit Global Empowerment Mission, which is bringing PPE to hospitals across the US.
The House of Mouse is donating one million non-medical, reusable cloth face masks featuring fan-favorite characters like Elsa from Frozen and Baby Yoda from Star Wars to children and families in underserved and vulnerable US communities, including Florida and California. US nonprofit organization MedShare is handling distribution. In addition, the masks can be pre-ordered in the US (US$19.99 for a four-pack) on shopdisney.com, and up to US$1 million from Disney’s US sales will be donated to MedShare, now through September 30, 2020, to support the medical community’s ongoing lifesaving efforts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative follows Disney’s donation of more than 100,000 N95 masks to New York, California, Florida and Washington, and 175,000 rain ponchos for hospitals requiring alternative protective garments.
The COVID-19 relief fund, launched by eMedia Investments and HCI Foundation, is aimed at providing food to the most vulnerable communities of the society. The two organizations are also working with the Lunchbox Fund to provide meals to orphaned and vulnerable children across South Africa.
This month, the Texas-based US division of Dutch toy and gaming company Goliath is giving back all profits from its popular family card game Virus to the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization (WHO) to boost research required to end the pandemic. In Virus, players aim to be the first to acquire four healthy organs while blocking competitors from achieving the same goal. According to Goliath, the game generated a 10-fold increase in consumer sales in January. The toymaker has also donated hundreds of puzzles and games to local centers including Children’s Medical Center Plano, Children’s Medical Center Dallas and Highland Springs Senior Living Community.
The Toronto-based prodco behind hit animated series True and the Rainbow Kingdom and Pikwik Pack is supporting DonateTO, a City of Toronto initiative that bolsters organizations that need help the most, including food banks and long-term care homes. A number of the studio’s artists are also making and donating masks.
Rhode Island’s Hasbro is backing nonprofits Save the Children and No Kid Hungry to address the most urgent needs of vulnerable children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing healthy meals and distributing books and learning resources. The toyco is also offering thousands of toys and games to kids and families most in need. It is also teaming up with toy manufacturer Cartamundi to produce 50,000 face shields a week for front-line workers over the next few weeks. Hasbro Canada, meanwhile, is providing financial support to Breakfast Club of Canada, a charity organization that helps feeds more than 240,000 children and youth in nearly 2,000 schools across the country.
Florida-based toyco Jazwares (Nanables, Roblox) has donated approximately 25,000 surgical masks to US hospitals and frontline workers, including Mount Sinai New York City, Greenwich Medical Center and Fort Lauderdale Police. A group of the company’s employees has also sewn an additional 200 reusable masks for frontline healthcare workers.
Kids Entertainment Professionals for Young Refugees has shifted its fundraising efforts this year to support UNICEF’S COVID-19 fund, founder Grant Moran, says. It has also set up a GoFundMe page to support the UN body’s efforts. And while it traditionally runs a “Kindred Spirits” campaign on June 20th (World Refugee Day), KEPYR is moving the campaign online, launching a month-long digital fundraiser on May 20th. More info will be forthcoming. UNICEF is aiming to raise more than US$650 million for kids affected by the pandemic. Refugees and displaced kids are accutely at risk during this pandemic due to over-crowding at camps as well as poor access to sanitation.
The LEGO Group, along with the LEGO Foundation, has launched a couple of initiatives to help the children and families affected by COVID-19. It has donated US$50 million to various charities, including Education Cannot Wait, to support the children in need and ensure the continuity of learning and skill development during these trying times. The second initiative, “#Letsbuildtogether,” joins LEGO designers, STEM and play experts, and creatives to share and build ideas to keep children engaged. Apart from helping children and families, the company is also supporting the frontline healthcare workers by producing more than 13000 visors a day for the Danish Health Authorities.
Little Medical School
Missouri-based educational company Little Medical School is offering special educational kits to the children of frontline workers through its Dr. Genie’s Kids Foundation. Kids will receive a white coat, a plush patient and a diploma from the Little Medical School. It will also invite kids to join an online course where they can learn about how healthcare professionals are making a difference during the pandemic.
California-based toyco Mattel is leveraging its design and development teams to produce face masks using fabric from Barbie and Fisher-Price products. Hundreds of masks have been donated to healthcare workers in Los Angeles and New York, and the company is in the process of making 50,000 more. In collaboration with healthcare professionals, Mattel prototyped personal protective equipment (PPE) and is now producing 100,000 face shields to distribute to medical professionals across the US. In addition, Mattel procured more than 10,000 surgical and N95 masks for healthcare providers, and recently donated toys and art supplies to kids as part of Los Angeles Unified School District’s “LA Students Most in Need” charitable effort. Other domestic and international nonprofit partners that have received toys and supplies from Mattel include Baby2Baby, Feed the Children, LA Family Housing, Partners for Pediatric Vision, Save the Children and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. Mattel’s chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz has been delivering updates on the company’s work via LinkedIn.
ON kids & family majority shareholder Mediawan launched fundraising effort #ALaMaison. The channel, launched April 7, offers families cultural and educational content, and funds raised will support the All United Against The Virus alliance and the Hôpitaux de Paris – Hôpitaux de France Foundation.
Operation Pac-Man is a nonprofit organization that aims to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by addressing the worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) among healthcare workers and hospitals. Created last month by Isaac Larian, the founder and CEO of California-based toyco MGA Entertainment (MGAE), the initiative has air-freighted and distributed more than 130,000 PPE devices to frontline workers at more than 70 American hospitals. Designers and engineers at MGA and Little Tikes also worked with a local hospital on a ventilator, and Little Tikes is re-tooling machines at its Hudson, Ohio-based factory so production can begin right away.
MGA’s hit toy property L.O.L. Surprise is also supporting Operation Pac-Man with the launch of PhD B.B., a new limited-edition doll that includes a signature face mask accessory, an MGAE Cares heart decal, stickers and seven additional unboxing layers. MGAE is donating US$1 from every purchase of the US$9.99 doll to Operation Pac-Man. Pre-orders will open later this month. Though Operation Pac-Man was seeded by a US$5-million donation of L.O.L. Surprise sales, further donations can be made here.
ViacomCBS’s Nick Jr. UK is launching limited-edition PAW Patrol t-shirts and sending all of the profits to NHS (National Health Services) Charities Together, which supports health service staff and volunteers caring for COVID-19 patients. The t-shirts were created in partnership with online retailer Character.com and apparel partner Bioworld International. The shirts are available on Character.com’s website and Nick will promote them across its social media accounts.
This New York nonprofit organization promotes and supports a comforting bedtime routine for all children. With schools closed and parents working from home during the pandemic, Pajama Program is hosting daily virtual reading parties on its social channels with the organization’s staff, volunteers and influencers. It’s also participating in the GivingTuesdayNow movement. Charity org Giving Tuesday designated May 5 as GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For each US$10 donation made between now and May 5, Pajama Program is donating a book and pair of pajamas to support a child of an essential worker.
The construction sets and building toys-maker has donated 9,000 square feet within its Greenville-based warehouse to the Mill Village Farms charity, so the charitable org can pack and store boxes of food going to families in need. The toyco is also donating toys in every box of food to support kids and families.
The family of YouTube influencer Ryan Kaji (Ryan ToysReview, Ryan’s World) has donated US$500,000 to the First Responders Children’s Foundation to assist with the organization’s COVID-19 relief efforts, which support the families of paramedics, firefighters and medical professionals.
Another toyco supporting frontline healthcare workers is Toronto, Canada’s Spin Master. It’s producing customized face shields out of headbands from the company’s popular family guessing game Hedbanz. Spin Master’s product development team came up with the idea in three days, and delivered a prototype face shield that incorporates plastic inserts onto the headbands. Though not medical-grade, working with suppliers in Mexico, Spin Master produced and shipped 5,000 units to five hospitals in Ontario, Canada last week, and is producing more than 10,000 face shields daily for health care workers across North America and globally. Additionally, Spin Master is hatching a plan to donate toys to a range of organizations that will be announced soon.
The toyco is also donating 90,000 toys, plush, games and activities (with a collective retail value of around US$1 million) to children in need, in response to the pandemic. Charitable partners who will distribute the toys include Baby2Baby, Toys for Tots, School on Wheels, Variety The Children’s Charity of Southern California, Chai Lifeline West Coast, Chai Lifeline Canada, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Canada, Save the Children, Toronto Firefighter’s Toy Drive and additional charities through the help of Impact Giving.
The STV Children’s Appeal has launched a new campaign with an aim to provide support to families who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. The donations through this campaign will be given to charities helping those in need.
The plush manufacturer behind Beanie Bears has launched a new bear online and to retailers worldwide, and will donate 100% of the profits from its original sale to the United Way Worldwide fund.
ViacomCBS Consumer Products has partnered with multiple licensees to create face masks featuring popular characters from Nickelodeon properties, including Spongebob SquarePants, PAW Patrol, and Blue’s Clues & You. The reusable masks, which are not for medical use, will be available through major retail outlets worldwide in the summer. All of the proceeds from the masks will be donated to Save the Children.
WarnerMedia has rolled out a number of initiatives globally, including repurposing its Harry Potter studio tour bus to help transport frontline medical workers, donating ad dollars raised on CNN digital, and donating medical supplies to local hospitals.
The Hong Kong-based toyco behind Rainbocorns and Bunch O Balloons has chartered seven planeloads of personal protective equipment (PPE) from China to New Zealand. Zuru originally launched in New Zealand, and now it’s partnering with the Salvation Army and the New Zealand Food Bank to raise funds supporting food runs to the underprivileged. The campaign has raised more than US$1.5 million, with Zuru matching donation dollar for dollar. Zuru’s chief operating officer Anna Mowbray plans to launch a platform to provide PPE to the private sector.
Organizations that can use support
Around the globe, organizations are supporting kids and their families.
Food banks, such as the United States’ No Hungry Kids, Canada’s Breakfast Club of Canada and New Zealand’s KidsCan, are specifically raising funds to help feed kids who may be going without school lunches. Food banks around the globe are also seeking donations as traditional giving mechanisms have been affected. (This includes, but is certainly in no way limited to: Feed India; Brazil’s Banco de Alimentos; Food Bank Australia; The European Food Bank Federations, which helps coordinate food banks across the continent; Food Banks Canada; The Trussell Trust in the UK; and the US’ Feeding America.)
Beyond food aid, there are a number of organizations helping kids around the globe in their unique lockdown related challenges. In the us, Supplies for Success and launched a COVID-19 emergency fund to provide school supply kits to American kids and families in need, as well as to healthcare workers’ children. Canada’s Variety – The Children’s Charity of Ontario is looking for donations because it can’t provide the necessary community support through its facility programming while children and families are quarantined during the pandemic. The UK’s Children’s Society provides support to children in crisis across the UK, and fights child poverty and violence. As COVID-19 disrupts and impacts every child’s life, the organization is seeking funding to help children’s whose families have been affected by COVID-related layoffs or income reductions. Canada’s Kids Help Phone, Australia’s Kids Helpline, and the UK’s Childline, among others, all continue to offer mental health help during the crisis. And, of course, with global reach both Save the Children and UNICEF are raising funds to help kids receive help around the world.
Free content & resources
With its roots in film, television and education, there has been a huge boom in creators and companies offering up free content and educational resources to help parents and kids cope with COVID-19. There have been an uncountable number of PSAs helping children understand basic hand-hygiene, including short videos from the likes of Rainbow Rangers, Treehouse and Cartoon Network. Sesame Workshop rolled out its Caring For Each Other platform, which includes coping mechanisms and other resources that remind kids to be kind. Pukeko Pictures’ “Stay Clear, Stay Clean, Stay Kind” campaign echoes this message, with free e-books to springboard conversations between parents, teachers and kids. Jim Henson launched “Henson at Home,” which includes lessons on how to create puppets and story time with popular characters. Organizations like Nickelodeon and India’s Toonz Media have unveiled animation tutorials for kids. Netflix’s animators banded together to pay tribute to medical workers. Also, nonprofit animation studio Drawn from Valor is launching the free 10-week multimedia series Dfv Thinks COVID-19, featuring videos, draw-along prompts and blogs on its website. And a number or organizations have rolled out educational resources to help families keep up learning while school is out.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, nor does Kidscreen endorse any of the organizations mentioned above. If you have a fundraising or medical supply initiative underway reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to share.