CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid customers have supported Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for more than a quarter-century with donations of coins and dollar bills, and the company says the collective effort has raised more than $100 million in overall giving following the company’s 2020 Miracle Balloon Campaign.

This past summer, Rite Aid customers donated $1.9 million during the annual Miracle Balloon Campaign, which ran eight weeks across more than 2,400 stores in 18 states. Rite Aid has conducted the campaign for 26 years, with associates rallying to the cause to raise donations to fund patient services, critical care, life-saving equipment, pediatric programs and more at children’s hospitals.

Recognizing the profound need posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Rite Aid Foundation this year will contribute an additional $3.5 million in grant funding on top of the funds raised in stores to support the 53 CMN Hospitals within Rite Aid’s footprint. Separately, the Foundation this spring supported children’s hospitals during the acute onset of the pandemic with a $250,000 grant.

As a healthcare and retail company delivering services in urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods and communities, Rite Aid’s partnership with local children’s hospitals provides a conduit for customers to support the health and well-being of kids faced with both serious medical conditions and socioeconomic and racial inequities that making getting the care they need difficult.

Support for children’s hospitals and children’s health serves as a point of community pride for the company and its workforce each year and has been embraced by the surrounding community and corporate vendors. Much of the $100 million has been raised a dollar at a time from Rite Aid customers, through the purchase of Miracle Balloon coupons or straight donations. All funds stay local to the children’s hospital in their community and region.

“This milestone is the culmination of millions and millions of small acts of kindness, compassion and care for each other. Raised dollar by dollar over more than 25 years, these funds have literally saved lives and changed children’s futures,” said Jessica Kazmaier, president of The Rite Aid Foundation and executive vice president, chief human resources officer at Rite Aid. “We are grateful for the care that children’s hospitals provide to our neighborhoods and thank our loyal customers for everyday generosity that has accumulated into immeasurable, life-changing impact.”

Combined, Rite Aid and The Rite Aid Foundation will support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals with more than $5.6 million of collective support in 2020, bringing the company’s overall giving to more than $102 million. Rite Aid is one of seven corporate partners to surpass the $100 million milestone in support of CMN Hospitals since the network was founded in 1983.

This year’s corporate and philanthropic support comes during a critical time when children’s hospitals across the country have found themselves on the frontlines of a generation-defining pandemic. Hospitals have responded by marshaling personal protective equipment, developing new ways to deliver therapeutic programs to patients and contributing to the COVID-19 vaccine development effort. In some cases, children’s hospitals have used their pediatric intensive care units to treat adults with the coronavirus.

“Surpassing the $100 million fundraising milestone is a tremendous testament to Rite Aid’s years of dedication to building healthier communities and transforming how our network of children’s hospitals meets the most urgent needs, saving more lives and protecting our collective future,” said Teri Nestel, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “We are grateful to Rite Aid’s customers, vendors and associates for confronting the many challenges of 2020 to help us change kids’ health, and change the future – for all of us.”

While 2020 has provided a distinct set of challenges for children’s hospitals, their critical work has spanned decades. During Rite Aid’s years supporting CMN Hospitals, millions of children in cities such as

Baltimore, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Seattle have been given the gift of better health because of the care they have received and the advancements made by local hospitals, with examples below:

  • In Fresno, California, and its surrounding community, philanthropic dollars have supported Valley Children’s Hospital’s expansion into a powerful network of care that treats all pediatric patients, regardless of their ability to pay. In 2020, Valley Children’s Hospital was ranked as one of the country’s best children’s hospitals for the fifth year in a row, with seven noted specialties.
  • In Philadelphia, The Rite Aid Foundation grant funding has supported the Healthier Together Initiative, which stretches beyond the hospital’s walls to address nonmedical issues such as healthy behaviors, socioeconomic factors and environmental elements that comprise the social determinants of health.
  • In New York, Cohen Children’s Medical Center’s trauma program is the largest Pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center in New York State as credited by the American College of Surgeons.
  • In Washington, kids with complex conditions require seamless coordination amongst their many providers and specialists. From neurology, cardiology, endocrinology, neurodevelopmental and more. And that’s exactly why 2-year-old Malachi’s family moved across the state to be closer to Seattle Children’s, where they’re able to see all of them in one place.
  • Outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Penn State Children’s Hospital recently began treating their first child to receive a new gene therapy to combat spinal muscular atrophy, a disease that can strip children of their ability to walk, eat or breathe.
  • In Detroit, Beaumont Children’s Center for Exceptional Families expanded their therapeutic summer camps, social skills and support groups and added to the outdoor inclusive playground that offers accessible play equipment for all children. The Center for Exceptional Families offers comprehensive medical, rehabilitation, recreational and social support for children with special needs or life-threatening injuries.
  • And, in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center has expanded its newborn intensive care unit (NICU) to nearly 50 beds, the largest in Maryland.

Additionally, Rite Aid’s support has amplified Johns Hopkins Children’s Center efforts to provide the Baltimore community and inpatient population with services like its Hopkins Community Connection program.

Launched almost 15 years ago, Hopkins Community Connection addresses the essential social needs that can directly impact a patient’s health and put them at greater risk for chronic illnesses. The program typically serves 400 families at a time, providing access to food and necessities such as infant formula and diapers, but the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed enrollment to skyrocket to 850 families.

“Our program offers a connection to those resources that families often don’t know they’re eligible for or may not know how to access,” said Dr. Barry Solomon, chief of the division of general pediatrics at Johns Hopkins. “We really serve the whole health picture, not just of the patient, but of the family. Families could have questions about their insurance, where to get food or how to get the lights back on. And, no matter who they ask, they’ll be connected to a resource to solve the problem.”

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