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Red Nose Day Gives Black Eye to Walgreens and NBC

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It has been "Red Nose" day at Walgreens during the last week of May. Walgreens teamed up with Comic Relief to raise money to combat child hunger, a worthy cause. However, the program should be giving Walgreens a black eye because Walgreens purchased all of its promotional materials from China. Walgreens sells Red Noses, red foam shaped like a nose, for a dollar. Fifty cents is targeted for the non-profit Comic Relief. Walgreens has the noses made in China for a few pennies, and takes half of the revenue as profit for itself. Walgreens claims that it is giving all of the profits to Comic Relief, but this is false. The cost to Walgreens of each Red Nose is less that five cents. So Walgreens is netting 45 cents on each Red Nose sale. One reason that there is widespread child hunger in the United States is that we have lost two million plus jobs to China.

Walgreens also sells Red Nose wristbands for a dollar. These are also made in China. Walgreens could have had these made at Made in the USA by Alliance Rubber for a few cents each in Arkansas. In 2010, Arkansas had the highest hunger rate in the nation among children under 18, according to Feeding America. If Walgreens had purchased a million wristbands from Alliance Rubber it would have created many jobs in Arkansas that would have fed many hungry children there.

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The Source of Red Nose Day

Comic Relief was launched live on BBC on Christmas in 1985 from a refugee camp in Sudan. Three years later, the campaign morphed into Red Nose Day in

Ethiopia. According to a BBC Panorama expose, the charity is also sitting on -100 million ($130 million) donated by the public , Red Nose Day refuses to say how the money is being invested. The returns on the non-profit's investments are used to fund its ballooning costs, which have hit -17 million a year, largely because its salaries have nearly doubled in four years. This year's Red Nose Day raised more than -100 million after an eight-hour show on BBC1 and BBC2 fronted by presenters including Russell Brand.

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During Comic Relief broadcasts, celebrities included soccer star David Beckham and repeated the charity's pledge that "for every pound the charity gets directly from the public a pound goes to helping transform the lives of people living with poverty and social injustice." But the charity's latest accounts show it employs nearly 300 people with a -13million annual salaries. Chief executive Kevin Cahill's salary has increased from -111,000 to -131,000 since 2008, with five directors earning more than -80,000.

To fund the spiralling costs, Comic Relief invests millions of pounds of donations in the stocks. According to Comic Relief's accounts from 2007 to 2009, it invested millions in managed funds known in Britain as "booze, bombs and fags" funds because they invest the money into company shares that sell alcohol, arms and tobacco.

Comic Relief had -2.7million invested in three tobacco firms in 2009, while at the same time giving more than -300,000 to Target Tuberculosis, which warns that smoking may be responsible for more than one in five TB cases worldwide. Comic Relief also had -310,000 invested in alcohol firm Diageo, despite the charity's claim that it works to "reduce alcohol misuse and minimize alcohol-related harm."

Since 2009, Comic Relief has changed the way it publishes its accounts online so it is impossible for the public to tell what it holds as investment. The non-profit refused to say whether the money it currently holds -- more than -100 million -- was invested in shares in alcohol, arms or tobacco companies.

Red Nose Day in the USA

In 2015, Red Nose Day was formally brought to the United States under the auspices of Comic Relief. The 2015 Red Nose Day Special aired on NBC on May 21, 2015 and was hosted by David Duchovny, Seth Meyers and Jane Krakowski, raising $23 million. The 2016 NBC special aired May 26 with Craig Ferguson as the host.

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Celebrating Red Nose Day for the third year in a row, NBC has broadcast a night of programming on May 25 with Chris Hardwick hosting the "The Red Nose Day Special." Academy Award winner Julia Roberts and other stars participated in Red Nose Day-themed programming throughout the night.

Instead of buying Walgreens Red Noses and Red Wristbands, you can give to specific charities that give directly to the causes that you believe in, like Feeding America, a non-profit based in the USA that gives 98% of its donations directly to ending hunger. Buying these Walgreens products does not give you a tax deduction like a similar contribution given directly to a non-profit targeting at a specific malady like hunger in America. Buying Walgreens Red Noses also minimizes your donation because half goes directly into Walgreens bottom line.

 

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Chairman, Made in the USA Foundation, economist and lawyer, author of ten books and hundreds of articles.

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