This article is part of a series by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine celebrating MOA’s 30th birthday. Join us as we ride through some of our favorite memories of the last 30 years.
The spirit of giving strikes most malls around pivotal philanthropic times. And while Mall of America does incredible work to support charitable events and drives during the holiday season, it’s MOA’s commitment to local philanthropy year-round that really stands out. The Mall helps charities and non-profits raise awareness and donations through in-kind support, products, and gifts. It hosts drives, walks, collections, and partners with local organizations to give back to our community. Around the world, Mall of America is revered for its size and unique shopping experience. To us, it’s a difference maker. Here are five ways the Mall of America goes above and beyond to make our world a better place—consider our heart strings officially tugged.
No trip is complete to MOA without glimpsing one of the iconic mall walkers. And while these sneaker-sporting regulars lay claim to its miles of floor space on a daily basis, local charities also partner with the Mall to host more substantial fundraising walks. Organizations like the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation bring thousands of walkers through its doors to celebrate, raise awareness, and support these causes. Mall of America is so invested in increasing knowledge and giving back that community partners have been able to raise more than $12 million annually. That’s 12 million additional reasons to love this big-hearted beacon of goodness.
MOA may feel large enough to have its own zip code—fun fact, it doesn’t—but it’s the people inside this amazing building that really make a difference. The spirit of camaraderie is ever present amongst the Mall’s thousands of employees, but the real heart-pumping support comes from the ever-evolving roster of volunteers. Through the Booster Volunteers Program, nonprofits can send a group of volunteers to work for eight-hour shifts. The program then donates $50 per person to whichever organization supplied the volunteers. So not only is the Mall getting additional help to make its location more welcoming to its millions of visitors, Mall of America also helps nonprofits raise more than $100,000 annually through this program.
A Walk in the Clouds
The KS95 for Kids radiothon is an annual event at MOA that fills our ears and hearts with stories of children that raise awareness and funds for Children’s Cancer Research Fund and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. One unique story that the Mall continues to celebrate is that of Lakeland native Zach Sobiech, who in 2012, shared with radiothon listeners his battle with osteosarcoma. Sobiech penned the song “Clouds” as a way of saying goodbye to friends and family. After Sobiech passed, the Mall’s rotunda filled with more than 5,000 people singing his song in an effort to raise spirits up, up, up and celebrate his life. Mall of America continues that tradition today, and the annual Clouds choir is now an unforgettable sight to behold each December.
Next time you’re at Nickelodeon Universe, check out the registers. At each pay station, there are donation collections where guests can drop extra coins. Every few months a different organization is chosen and their logo and mission goes on display. Rounding up results in some big bucks for the selected charities. Also, the next time you toss a coin in one of the MOA fountains to make a wish, you can do so knowing that your change can help change lives. The Mall has a pond fund, where each month a different nonprofit is selected to receive the change collected from the several fountains around the property. Every year, approximately $24,000 is distributed to help make the wishes of several charities come true.
Some superheroes use a sidekick to pack an even greater punch. Batman and Robin may be one dynamic duo, but they’ve got nothing on Mall of America’s partnership with the American Red Cross. MOA has hosted countless volunteer recognition events and telethons in times of disaster. MOA has also been home to several community blood drives—a role that became vital when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Hundreds of Red Cross blood drives in Minnesota were canceled, resulting in thousands of lost donors and a blood shortage—not something you want when facing a global pandemic. The then-shuttered Mall of America worked with the American Red Cross Minnesota Region to repurpose the North Atrium as a blood donation center. Lives were saved and our Minnesota hearts have been bursting with pride ever since.