Taiwan's No. 1 health and beauty retailer is counting on Mickey and Minnie to drive its fourth annual Christmas charity campaign.
"You can help the Child Welfare League Foundation, and thousands of children in Taiwan by simply buying a Mickey or Minnie plush toy," Stuart Mitchell, managing director of Watsons Taiwan and the spark plug of the fund-raising event said.
The 16-inch tall cuddly stuffed toys - Mickey and Minnie are both wearing red hats adorned with mistletoes - sell for NT$299 each. For every item sold, Watsons will be setting aside NT$50 for the CWLF, Mitchell told a news conference last week.
To date, Watsons' Christmas charity events have raised a total of NT$11.7 million for children's organizations. In 2002, the retailer's Christmas Bear promotion raised NT$3.7 million for the Chinese Children's Fund. A Garfield campaign in 2003, and a Snoopy promotion last year raised a total of NT$8 million for the CWLF.
"We haven't set a target this year. We are just going to see how it goes," Mitchell said. "We are quite upbeat about this year's Christmas campaign because we have very good products to begin with. Our Mickey and Minnie items are very posh."
Watsons, which operates 390 outlets in the country, has built a long-term relationship with the CWLF. The non-profit organization is one of Taiwan's leading organizations advocating child welfare and children's rights.
"We think it's important that we give something back to the community," Mitchell said. "This is our way of saying 啍hank you' to our loyal customers."
The CWLF has been consistently pushing for legislation safeguarding children's rights, and monitoring the government's child welfare system and policies. The group has also established a child welfare data center and network, provided on-job training for child welfare workers, published reading materials on child welfare, and conducted research and surveys on child welfare issues.
According to a statement issued by CWLF, the group launched its hotline number for distressed kids (0800-003-123) in April 2002.
"Help is only a telephone call away," the foundation said.
During these past three years, nearly 34,000 children - or 200 kids per week - dialed CWLF's hotline number, the non-profit organization said.
"Our well-trained and professional child welfare workers listened, and provided advice and guidance to those kids," CWLF said.