Highlighting Lulu Jr., a TIF Toy Bank Donor

December 19, 2017 | Lulu Jr., the Morrisville, N.C. maker of popular book-making kits including IlluStory, has partnered with the Toy Industry Foundation’s Toy Bank since 2013. To date, the company has donated more than $100,000 in book-making kits to children in need.

Toy News Tuesday editors sat down with Jen Santoro, Lulu Jr.’s program manager, to discuss the company’s commitment to ensuring that all children – regardless of their circumstances – learn to read and write.

Can you briefly describe the product(s) that have been donated to The Toy Bank?

Lulu Jr. has a variety of book-making kits for children of all ages. Our IlluStory and My Comic Book kits each come with their own guide book that assists the child through the creative and imaginative book-writing and illustrating process. 

Why is it important for Lulu Jr. to support The Toy Bank? How does philanthropy fit in with Lulu Jr.’s mission?

Since the inception of Lulu Jr. in 2013, we made it our mission to encourage creativity, strengthen literacy, and build self-esteem in children through books. We felt that the gift of books – and offering children an avenue to create their very own published book – should be available to as many as possible. We love giving children the opportunity to fall in love with books, stories, writing, and illustrating. Who knows, maybe a child who uses our book-making kits will become the next J.K. Rowling!

What are some of the developmental skills that book-making kits teach children?

Children can improve their cognitive and communication skills when they use our kits. Writing stories requires children to organize information and express their thoughts clearly. By using our guide book, they will learn how to brainstorm ideas and they will be more motivated to create story pages with illustrations that visualize their thoughts. Research has found that continual support of these activities, especially in early childhood, leads to more literate, creative, and socially-adaptive teens and adults.

How can these skills benefit disadvantaged children?

The skills are a confidence booster, not only in the classroom, but also in life. Being confident will help motivate children to further their education, actively engage in group projects and settings, and approach challenges they face with more creative solutions. 

Why is it important for the toy community to give back during the holiday season?

Toys are meant to be fun and engaging with the main purpose of bringing children happiness. Remembering the less fortunate in our world seems especially important during the holiday season because when the toy community gives back, it can create a ripple effect by inspiring other toy companies to give or even teaching children the importance of helping others. For Lulu Jr., it is extremely rewarding to watch how the gift of our book-making kits brings joy to a child in need.

This article is a part of a regular series focused on the philanthropic work of toy companies that runs quarterly in Toy News Tuesday. TNT previously highlighted Ann Williams Group.