CINCINNATI, Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) Family of Stores, in partnership with key suppliers, has committed $3 million in donations for local breast cancer initiatives across the country to support National Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. This will be the seventh year since Kroger began the Giving Hope a Hand® initiative. By the end of 2013, Kroger will have donated more than $24 million to support breast cancer research, education and services since 2006. The effort kicked off in stores on Sunday, September 22 and features 21 Kroger associates who are breast cancer survivors on marketing materials and custom packages of national and Kroger corporate brand products. These women share their survivor stories on the packaging of select items sold exclusively in Kroger's family of stores. Kroger associate Joanna Garcia, is featured this year on select Kraft cheese packaging. Joanna had no family history of breast cancer but she learned a lot about herself throughout her battle with the disease. "I learned I have more strength in myself than I ever thought I had. I learned that with perseverance, patience, and moral support you can get through any type of situation that comes your way." She encourages everyone to never give up because you are not alone. "It's okay to cry and be angry, as long as you keep fighting." "Giving Hope a Hand® aims to inspire our customers and raise awareness by sharing stories from some of the more than 2.7 million women who are breast cancer survivors," said David B. Dillon, Kroger's chairman and chief executive officer. "The Kroger family is honored that so many of our associates offered their personal stories of hope and triumph." Last year, Kroger received the 2012 Gold HALO award from the Cause Marketing Forum for the company's annual Giving Hope a Hand® campaign.