Macy's Believe Santa Mail Letterbox and Virginia (Graphic: Business Wire)

The holidays are a time for giving, and Macy’s is again offering its customers a chance to unite in the season’s spirit of generosity through its annual Believe campaign benefiting Make-A-Wish. Beginning tomorrow, kids of all ages can drop their stamped letters, addressed to Santa at The North Pole, in the Santa Mail letterbox at their local Macy’s. For each letter received through Dec. 24, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million, to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Now celebrating its sixth season, Believe has become Macy’s signature holiday program, garnering support and participation from customers from coast-to-coast and resulting in more than $6.5 million in donations to Make-A-Wish. New this season, customers who share a photo or video of their moment mailing a letter to Santa at Macy’s Believe Station to Instagram, Twitter or Vine using #MacysBelieve will be considered for the opportunity to be in a Macy’s television commercial airing Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In addition, “Believers” can join in the spirit of the holidays through other Believe elements, including a school musical program, a nationally televised animated special, activity guides for teachers and the return of the fifth annual National Believe Day.

“Macy’s Believe campaign, benefiting Make-A-Wish, has surpassed our expectations ever since we introduced the program six years ago,” said Martine Reardon, chief marketing officer for Macy’s. “Year after year, we are astounded by the outpouring of support our customers show for this campaign as our Santa Mail letterboxes overflow with letters. Families, schools and community organizations rally to write letters, bringing the campaign’s message of giving to life.”

The inspiration for Macy’s Believe campaign was the heartwarming true story of 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, who wrote a letter to the New York Sun newspaper in 1897 asking if there really was a Santa Claus. The paper’s editor, Francis P. Church, responded with what has become the most reprinted editorial ever to run in any newspaper in the English language stating, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist …” More than 115 years after that famous essay was penned, Church’s words still resonate and remind us all to believe in the power of childhood wonder, hope and generosity – cornerstones of the Believe campaign.

“Embracing their imagination is what allows our wish kids to think big; to think about the future as they fight their illness,” said David Williams, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish America. “Macy’s Believe campaign captures that sentiment perfectly and we are so proud to work with such a caring, passionate, and generous company.”

Key elements from the 2013 Macy’s Believe campaign will include:

#MacysBelieve Television CommercialNow through Dec. 7, Macy’s is inviting all “Believers” to share a photo or video of the special moment they mail their letter in Macy’s Santa Mail letterbox in-store via Instagram, Twitter or Vine. By including #MacysBelieve, posts will be considered for inclusion in a national, crowd-sourced television commercial airing Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The selected elements will be edited into a video montage that will feature magical moments from customers across the country.

“Yes, Virginia The Musical”“Yes, Virginia The Musical” will return to stages this holiday season with more than 100 performances taking place across the country. Audiences will be taken on an adventure as Virginia and her friends set out to prove Santa really does exist. In support of arts and music education, Macy’s created a digital toolkit with helpful reference material, provided the script and score royalty-free and offered $1,000 grants to 100 schools to support their productions. “Yes, Virginia The Musical” debuted last year and was warmly embraced by communities nationwide, with many participating schools giving back by encouraging their audiences to participate in the Believe letter-writing campaign. Grant recipient schools put their funds to use to purchase everything from costumes and set materials to sound and lighting equipment. For more information about “Yes, Virginia The Musical,” please visit yesvirginiamusical.com.

National Believe DayFriday, Dec. 6 will mark the fifth anniversary of National Believe Day, a highpoint of the Believe campaign. On this exciting day, Macy’s will call all “Believers” to action in celebration of the holiday season’s message of generosity and goodwill. Additional details about National Believe Day will be released as the day approaches.

“Yes, Virginia” Animated SpecialThe award-winning “Yes, Virginia” animated holiday television special will return this year featuring an all-star cast of voices that includes Neil Patrick Harris, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Alfred Molina, and Beatrice Miller in the title role. The half-hour holiday program, which debuted in 2009, helped a special wish come true for then 11-year-old Make-A-Wish recipient Taylor Hay, whose voice and likeness were captured for one of the characters.

“Yes, Virginia,” presented by Macy’s, will air on CBS on National Believe Day, Friday, Dec. 6, at 8:30 p.m. ET (check local listings).

The Hispanic adaptation of the program entitled “Si, Virginia. Un Cuento Navideño” will also feature an all-star cast with some of the most beloved entertainers in Hispanic America, including Don Francisco, Giselle Blondet, Blanca Soto, Ernesto LaGuardia and Gaby Borges in the title role. “Si, Virginia. Un Cuento Navideño” will air on Univision on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. ET.

“Yes, Virginia in Concert”This holiday season, “Yes, Virginia in Concert” will receive its world premiere on Dec. 14, 2013, in a performance by the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra. Written by Emmy Award-winning songwriters Wesley Whatley and William Schermerhorn, the family-friendly performance is presented by Macy’s and will feature John Morris Russell conducting the Pops along with singers and actors in a semi-staged adaptation of the heartwarming story.

“Believe” and “Yes, Virginia” MerchandiseCustomers who would like to take the magic of Virginia home while giving back can purchase the “Yes, Virginia” illustrated storybook, which includes a QR code that allows readers to access special content including a trailer of the television special. The animated special is also available on DVD exclusively in select Macy’s stores and on macys.com, and includes a Spanish audio option. Ten percent of the purchase price of each book and DVD sold at Macy’s will be donated to Make-A-Wish to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Believe and “Yes, Virginia” holiday trimmings, which include a Virginia plush doll, ornaments and stockings, also are available at select stores and online.

Believe Sitelet and Activity GuideMacy’s invites you to visit macys.com/believe for even more information about this year’s Believe campaign. There you can see a countdown to National Believe Day, search for events in your area, find a local Santa Mail letterbox, and even design a letter you can print and bring to your local Macy’s. Educators can also download the Believe Activity Guide; a toolkit available in English or Spanish for those who would like to use Believe as a writing lesson or activity during the holiday season.

Believe and Virginia Take FlightMillions of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ® viewers will ring in the holiday this year with their favorite Macy’s star as the Virginia giant balloon returns to the lineup along with the larger than life “Believe” red star balloons. Also joining the route will be the Macy's Great American Marching Band, comprised of the top high school music students from every state in the union, playing a "Believe Fanfare."

For Macy’s Believe campaign media materials, including images, please visit: http://mustacheagency.com/MNR/MacysHoliday2013/en/believe.html.

“Yes, Virginia” was created and produced by Macy’s and JWT in conjunction with The Ebeling Group and MEC Entertainment, a division of Mediaedge:cia. “Yes, Virginia The Musical” was adapted from the animated special and storybook by Chris Plehal, by Wesley Whatley (music) and William Schermerhorn (book and lyrics), the Emmy ® Award-winning team that created the original song “Yes, Virginia (There is a Santa Claus).”

About Macy’sMacy’s, the largest retail brand of Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M), delivers fashion and affordable luxury to customers at approximately 800 locations in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, as well as to customers in the U.S. and more than 100 international destinations through its leading online store at macys.com. Via its stores, e-commerce site, mobile and social platforms, Macy’s offers distinctive assortments including the most desired family of exclusive and fashion brands for him, her and home. Macy’s is known for such epic events as Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks ® and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ®, as well as spectacular fashion shows, culinary events, flower shows and celebrity appearances. Macy’s flagship stores -- including Herald Square in New York City, Union Square in San Francisco, State Street in Chicago, Dadeland in Miami and South Coast Plaza in southern California -- are known internationally and leading destinations for visitors. Building on a more than 150-year tradition, and with the collective support of customers, employees and Macy’s Foundation, Macy’s helps strengthen communities by supporting local and national charities giving more than $70 million each year to help make a difference in the lives of our customers.

For Macy’s media materials, including images and contacts, please visit our online pressroom at macys.com/pressroom.

About Make-A-WishMake-A-Wish ® grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. According to a 2011 U.S. study of wish impact, most health professionals surveyed believe a wish-come-true can have positive impacts on the health of children. Kids say wishes give them renewed strength to fight their illnesses, and their parents say these experiences help strengthen the entire family. Based in Phoenix, Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, serving children in every community in the United States and its territories. With the help of generous donors and more than 25,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish grants a wish somewhere in the country every 38 minutes. It has granted more than 226,000 wishes since its inception in 1980; nearly 14,000 in 2012 alone. Visit Make-A-Wish at wish.org to learn more.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/multimedia/home/20131106005226/en/

Copyright Business Wire 2010

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