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UNICEF says ‘Thank You’ to IKEA customers and co-workers

Soft Toy campaign raises close to Euro three million for UNICEF

GENEVA, 25 February 2008 – Between 3 November and 24 December 2007, IKEA donated 1 Euro for every soft toy sold in all its stores globally under the slogan “One Euro is a Fortune”.  Donations benefit UNICEF and Save the Children education projects. Funds raised during the 2007 campaign totaled nearly Euro 4.2 million.

The great success of the IKEA Soft Toy Campaign over the last three years has been driven by the commitment and enthusiasm of IKEA customers and staff. Since 2003, the Soft Toy Campaign has raised Euro 11 million.

The 2007 IKEA Soft Toy Campaign will fund twelve education projects in nine countries. Funds will support efforts including improving school facilities and access to water and toilets, and providing school benches, desks and educational supplies like books, pencils and writing pads for children and teachers.

One of the beneficiary projects, Albania Reads, will reach more than 200,000 school children growing up without books and other educational supplies. The 2007 Soft Toy Campaign will help to open libraries in 850 schools across Albania and supply them with books. By nurturing this culture of reading, UNICEF hopes the societal benefits of raising a literate youth will help to improve life for all children in Albania.

“There was a great excitement about the Soft Toys Campaign this year,” says Marianne Barner, Head of IKEA Social Initiative and Children’s Ombudsman. “All of the hard work of our co-workers, the great range of Soft Toys, and the fact that Euro 1 was being given to a good cause helped make this year a great success! Nearly Euro 4.2 million will go to children’s education. That is an achievement.”

IKEA’s strategic partnerships with UNICEF and Save the Children’s Fund contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Equal access to education for all girls and boys and quality education in a child-friendly environment is the foundation. By ensuring access to education for children, it becomes possible to build the knowledge necessary to combat disease and eradicate poverty and hunger.

"UNICEF is grateful to each and every IKEA customer and staff member around the world who supported the Soft Toy Campaign again this year. The commitment and motivation with which this campaign is carried out by reflects IKEA’s long-term dedication to working with UNICEF towards measurable results for children,” said Philip O’Brien, Director, Private Fundraising and Partnership for UNICEF. “Clearly, IKEA’s customers and staff share this commitment to promote and protect the rights of children.”

A quality basic education enhances lives and ends generational cycles of poverty and disease, providing the means for sustainable development. Opportunities to go to school will better equip girls and boys to build lives and realize dreams.

UNICEF's portion from the 2007 donation is Euro 2,774,493 (US$4 million). Funds will benefit UNICEF projects in Albania, Bangladesh, China, Côte d’Ivoire, India, Pakistan, Russia, Sierra Leone and Vietnam.

For further information, please contact:
UNICEF: Geoffrey Keele, Division of Communication, New York, +1.212.326.7583, gkeele@unicef.org

IKEA: Charlotte Lindgren, Corporate PR, IKEA Group, +, TTEL@memo.ikea.com

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

About Ikea
Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA has offered home furnishing and accessories of good design and function at low prices so the many people can afford them. IKEA incorporates environmentally friendly efforts into day-to-day business and continuously supports initiatives that benefit caused such as children and the environment. For more information, please visit www.IKEA-group.ikea.com.

For additional information visit:
UNICEF, www.unicef.org
IKEA, www.IKEA-group.ikea.com
Save the Children, www.savethechildren.net





18 February 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Rachel Bonham Carter reports on the return of books to children in Albania.
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