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New national effort targets more than $10 billion in idle change to build Habitat for Humanity homes in the Gulf Coast

BOSTON, Mass. (May 31, 2006) – Cone Inc., a cause marketing firm, has donated its services pro bono to help raise money in conjunction with Coinstar Inc. to benefit low-income families affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Called Making Change for Katrina, the campaign encourages people across the country to donate collected spare change through Coinstar. Proceeds from Making Change for Katrina go directly to Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit organization that builds simple, decent housing in partnership with people in need. 

According to Coinstar Inc., idle change – unused nickels, quarters, dimes and pennies –  in United States homes adds up to more than $10.5 billion – enough to help build thousands of homes for victims of Katrina. Participants can donate their spare change using one of the more than 12,000 coin collection centers found in supermarkets nationwide. Users choose the “donate” option from the onscreen menu, select “Making Change for Katrina” as the charity of choice, pour in the coins and take the tax-deductible receipt.

“Making Change for Katrina gives everyone a chance to help,” said Chris Clarke, senior vice president for Communications at Habitat. “From the few pennies of allowance saved by a young person to the mounds of change adults empty from their pockets and purses daily, no gift is too modest or too great. We urge people everywhere to give what they can, as often as they can. Each of us has the ability to make change for families who have lost virtually everything but their hope and dreams.”

In a nationwide poll commissioned by Cone Inc., a Boston-based firm that links companies and causes, 64 percent of Americans gave money to aid in Gulf Coast relief efforts, and nearly nine out of 10 of them would donate again if they knew how their dollars were going to be spent.  Additionally, among those willing to support hurricane victims a second time, more than half would consider donating their spare change.

“This campaign is not about writing a check or making tremendous financial sacrifice,” said Carol Cone, chairman for Cone Inc. “All people have to do is gather their idle change to make a difference. If we collect just 1 percent of the estimated $10 billion in coins secreted away in jars, drawers and pockets, we can raise $100 million to build critically needed homes in partnership with devastated Gulf Coast families. Imagine if we inspired 2 percent of the households!  Our goal is to move millions to take this simple action to help thousands of families. This was the worst natural disaster in American history.  It is not over. It demands an ongoing response at a national and grassroots level.”

Making Change for Katrina will host a national tour to increase awareness of the dire need for affordable housing in the Gulf and to collect spare change. Launching in Boston on June 28, 2006, the mobile tour will travel throughout the United States, visiting such cities as Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Seattle.  At each stop, volunteers will frame a “Making Change” Habitat home for delivery to pre-approved Habitat families in the Gulf. 

Additional program elements include innovative youth initiatives such as an in-school curriculum created by the Discovery Educator Network and on-campus student fund-raising programs through Habitat for Humanity.  Online advertising, broadcast public service announcements, posters and brochures will raise awareness of the issue and engage Americans.  Moreover, a Making Change for Katrina Web site will soon feature how-to activities and ideas to encourage community and local fund-raising group participation, as well as tips for parents to introduce their children to philanthropy.

Cone, creator of the program, is serving as the project’s director on a pro bono basis. Joining Cone are more than a dozen organizations also donating their services, including brand identity, PSAs, celebrity participation, Web site development, grassroots marketing and communications.

To find donation centers and to find out more about Making Change for Katrina and the mobile tour, visit www.makingchangeforkatrina.org.

About Making Change for Katrina
Making Change for Katrina (www.makingchangeforkatrina.org) is a pro bono campaign that was created by Carol Cone, Chairman of Cone Inc., a cause branding agency. Making Change for Katrina is a campaign to collect spare change to benefit the victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. The recipient of this campaign is Habitat for Humanity, which has been a partner throughout the development process. Coinstar Inc., with more than 12,000 Coinstar® Centers in grocery stores throughout the United States, will serve as the primary collection partner.

About Cone
Cone, LLC (www.coneinc.com http://www.coneinc.com/>) is a brand strategy and communications agency engaged in building brand trust. Cone creates stakeholder loyalty and long-term relationships through the development and execution of Cause BrandingSM, Brand Marketing, Corporate Responsibility and Issues and Crisis Management initiatives. Cone is a member of the Omnicom Group.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in Americus, Ga., in 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.