Nick charity targets parks

Annual event skedded for Oct. 17

Nickelodeon will run the fifth version of its annual $28 million Big Help-a-thon charity event aimed at kids on Oct. 17.

This year, the event will have a twist. Instead of encouraging kids to call a toll-free number to pledge volunteer hours, as was done the first four years, kids now will be asked to challenge their local governments to support kid volunteer programs to refurbish their local parks.

8 million calls

During last year’s Big Help-a-thon, Nickelodeon received 8 million calls from kids who pledged almost 85 million hours of volunteer time for projects such as stocking food banks for the homeless and helping animals through adoption drives.

“This year, we’re issuing a challenge to parents and local governments to create activities for kids to rebuild the park infrastructure across the country,” said Marva Smalls, executive VP and chief of staff at Nickelodeon.

The centerpiece of the campaign will be a live eight-hour programming event on Oct. 17 from noon-8 p.m., during which celebrities will rally kids to take to the phones throughout the day and nominate their town for a Big Help visit. For towns and cities that are nominated, Nickelodeon reps will contact the mayor or appropriate government leader and help identify a park that kid volunteers can refurbish.

The on-air event will be televised from Pan-Pacific Park in Los Angeles, the first park skedded to benefit from the program. Kids working with celebrity volunteers, who will be announced at a later date, will begin fixing up the park live on Nickelodeon.

10 nominees

The 10 towns that receive the most kid volunteer calls will receive a visit by Nickelodeon’s Big Help committee, where they will rebuild a local park. Smalls said that Nick will contribute “tens of thousands of dollars” to help fix each of the 10 parks.

“We want to further put our money where our mouth is to prove to kids that we’re to partner with them to refurbish these parks,” said Smalls.

Nickelodeon invests about $28 million in Big Help, a figure that includes outreach mailers to fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms nationwide, participation in the conferences of 25 partner organizations, a database of 30,000 to connect kids to volunteer groups and the use of 10% of the cable web’s ad time for the campaign.

The $28 million also includes the Big Helpmobile, a traveling volunteer learning lab that is going on a 50-city tour.

Main priority

Smalls said that Nick contributes so much money to Big Help because the event has been identified as one of the network’s six main priorities.

“This company believes that what’s good for kids is good for business,” Smalls said.

Big Help’s partnering organizations include: 4-H, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Easter Seals, Feed the Children, Girl Scouts of the USA, Habitat for Humanity, March of Dimes, National Wildlife Federation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, the United States Dept. of Education, YMCA of the USA and YWCA of the USA.

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