Last week, Save the Children Ambassador Jennifer Garner and I lobbied DC decision-makers, including more than a dozen members of Congress, to support an additional $2 billion in federal funding for private and public early-childhood-education programs.
Our message was simple: Since 85% of our brains develop during the first five years of years of life, it is tragically farcical that our public education efforts don't begin until a child is six years old.
Consequently, millions of the youngest and most vulnerable Americans simply don't get the kind of cognitive and emotional development they need because their families don't have the resources for books, music, learning games and other tools. Some struggling parents can't even afford blankets that give babies an important sense of security.
While we lobbied the federal government to do more, including support for Save the Children's innovative public-private Early Steps program, an important part of our message is that taking action is a shared responsibility.
As much as we need the government to do its part, we need families, governors, churches, mosques and synagogues and corporate America to do their part, too.
Well, just as we were making the rounds on Capitol Hill, one corporate leader was taking action with a very meaningful and extensive new effort.
Toys"R"Us, Inc., in partnership with Save the Children's U.S. Programs, launched a new campaign this week - Bundled in Hope - that asks for donations during checkout at Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores across the nation as well as on-line. Funds raised will be used to purchase desperately needed baby blankets for infants and toddlers living in some of the most isolated and impoverished parts of the United States as well as for Save the Children's Early Childhood Development program.
The campaign also includes celebrity-designed, one-of-a-kind baby blankets from Jennifer, Kyra Sedgwick, Julianne Moore, Jamie Lee Curtis and others, each of which will be sold to the most generous bidder on www.Toysrus.com/BundledinHope. Blankets will be auctioned through July 11, and money raised there will also benefit Save the Children programs.
This is just one example of a business that understands its role to serve the communities where it does business. More than just an example, it's a model for just the kind of innovative and responsible action that will make a difference in the lives of millions of children.