Leaney PS Supports IKEA’s Worldwide Soft Toy Campaign

Generous pupils at Leaney Primary School, just outside Ballymoney have taken up IKEA Belfast’s festive Soft Toy challenge and collected almost £200 for IKEA’s annual Soft Toy campaign which benefits UNICEF and Save the Children education programmes worldwide.

IKEA sent primary schools throughout Northern Ireland its 2011 Soft Toy campaign mascot Bjorn the Bear, alongside information on how IKEA’s global soft toy initiative benefits children throughout the world. Pupils in P1 to P7 at Leaney PS rose to the challenge collecting enough cash to buy 194 soft toys for which IKEA will donate a euro (85p) for each toy to Unicef/Save the Children. Nigel McGarry, IKEA’s sustainability leader and soft toy schools co-ordinator paid a special visit to the school to present all the pupils with their soft toys and to collect monies raised. “It’s an honour to visit Leaney Primary School and we really appreciate how hard all the pupils have worked bringing in cash for soft toys which will in turn support children in other parts of the world who really do need and deserve our help. As the campaign enters its final few weeks, Leaney is certainly top of the school ‘soft toy’ leader board!”

Leaney PS Principal Vivien Moorhouse said, “I’m extremely proud of how the children in all our year groups as well as their parents have taken IKEA’s soft toy campaign to heart. Since I talked about the campaign in school assembly and showed everyone Bjorn the Bear, our pupils have been enthusiastically collecting cash knowing their hard work will benefit children less fortunate than themselves in countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh.”

From now until December 23rd, for every IKEA Soft Toy, children’s book or kids meal purchased, IKEA will donate one euro to education programmes worldwide supported by UNICEF and Save the Children.

Since the campaign started in 2003, donations from the annual IKEA Soft Toy Campaign have totalled 35.2 million euro, supporting 95 programmes in 45 nations across three continents, and helping 8 million children enjoy their right to a quality education. The goal for the 2011 IKEA Soft Toys Campaign is to raise 12 million euro. In 2010, a record 11.4 million euro was raised in the annual holiday campaign at over 300 IKEA stores worldwide, enabling UNICEF to extend existing education programmes, expand pilot projects and initiate new efforts to improve schools and ensure children’s rights to a quality education from Central and Eastern Europe through Asia and Africa. “You buy a gift for a child you love, and you help educate a child you may never know,” notes IKEA Foundation CEO Per Heggenes. “It’s a chance to engage the 626 million annual visitors to IKEA stores worldwide, while expanding awareness among customers and co-workers of the power of education to transform children’s lives.”

IKEA Soft Toy campaign leader Nigel McGarry said: “This campaign genuinely makes a difference to children in developing countries and IKEA Belfast is delighted to play its part in changing young lives for the better. It’s a simple concept but hugely effective so we are encouraging all our customers to get involved.” Studies show that children with an education grow up better able to take care of themselves and their future families. Yet today, 69 million children around the globe are denied their right to a quality education due to poverty, disability, displacement, discrimination or cultural customs. Funds from the IKEA Soft Toy Campaign fuel innovative UNICEF education programmes, including teacher training, bilingual learning, and schools that are child-friendly with improved sanitation and water facilities – all of these factors help children to stay healthy, stay in school and succeed. Just one euro buys enough schoolbooks and supplies for five children! Education is not only a cornerstone of the IKEA Foundation’s mission and its partnerships with UNICEF and Save the Children, it’s also key to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nation’s 8-point global action plan to fight poverty, hunger and disease. Once all girls and boys have free access to education, they can learn what they need to in order to earn a living, feed their families, and stay healthy.  Each euro raised through the IKEA Soft Toy Campaign really adds up to improve children’s lives today and propel their families, villages, and nations forward for generations to come.

For further information about the IKEA Soft Toy Campaign, visit www.ikea.co.uk/belfast