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Bentonville, Ark. -- Declaring that more than 90 percent of its charitable giving targets local communities, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said for its fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2005, cash donations through its namesake and Sam's Club foundations exceeded a record $170 million.
"While we support many organizations and national causes, it has always been our goal to look for ways we can help improve the local communities where our Company associates and customers live," said Betsy Reithemeyer, v.p. of corporate affairs. "At the end of the day, it is our associates who make it happen. They bring to us many of our grant recommendations, and in turn, volunteer their time to make a difference in their community."
Wal-Mart's philanthropic efforts last year assisted more than 100,000 organizations, and overall, gave back $5 every second to support causes including: disaster recovery efforts and educational initiatives; funding for hospital equipment and treatment; support for military servicemen and women; literacy; child safety and missing children; and volunteerism.
In other Wal-Mart news, the world's largest retailer, in celebration of Black History Month, is sponsoring a multi-dimensional educational program honoring the Buffalo Soldiers -- African Americans who served in the segregated units of the American military from 1866 to 1951. The program heralds under-recognized heroes of African-American history who have contributed in profound and lasting ways to American life.
"At Wal-Mart, we celebrate diversity 365 days a year," said Charlyn Jarrells Porter, Wal-Mart's chief diversity officer. "This month, we are proud to sponsor a program that brings new information about, and bestows honor upon, the African-American servicemen who willingly gave so much at a time when they received so little in return."
The program's centerpiece is a documentary: The Invisible Men of Honor: The Legend of the Buffalo Soldiers. The film tells the story of the important yet unheralded role these all-black regiments played in the American expansion into the West as well as their valiant service in numerous wars and conflicts including World War I, World War II and the Korean Conflict. Narrated by actor Tim Reid, the story of the Buffalo Soldiers is enhanced with firsthand accounts of the experiences and observations of 20th century veterans.
The documentary will have its network debut on TV One today (Feb. 17, 8 p.m. EST). It will air subsequently in May and November in honor of Memorial Day and Veterans' Day and will also be available on-demand.