Big Lots Raising Heart-Health Awareness for Wear Red Day

Joice Wirkus, SVP, Marketing, Big Lots!

When customers walk into any Big Lots store on National Wear Red Day, they’ll be met with a sea of red — from the red products on display at the front of the store to the Go Red for Women shirts associates will be wearing.

This celebration of red on Feb. 5 speaks to the relationship between Big Lots and the American Heart Association to promote Go Red for Women, a movement to raise awareness that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.

“We want red to be prominent in our stores,” said Joice Wirkus, Big Lots senior vice president of marketing and member of the Go Red for Women National Leadership Council. “We want people to know there’s something special going on, so when they get to the register, they’ll want to join the cause.”

In addition to customer donations for the American Heart Association at the register from February 1-14, 2021, Big Lots is committed to donating up to $1 million over the next three years, matching any donations made on National Wear Red Day (Feb. 5, 2021). It’s a natural fit for Big Lots, whose foundation is particularly focused on health care and education.

“At Big Lots, our mission is to help people live big and save lots,” Wirkus said. “We want to do everything in our power to help them live big — and helping them live a long time is a key part of that.”

Although the national relationship between Big Lots and the AHA is new for 2021, the support from Big Lots employees has long been a tradition — they’ve been participating in the annual Heart Walk to raise money to fund lifesaving education and research for many years.

“Our associates love getting behind causes for which they can be passionate, and they know that Big Lots is helping communities around the country,” Wirkus said. “They want to be the heroes; they want to be the ambassadors of our brand.”

For Wirkus, getting involved with Go Red for Women is a personal passion because of her family history. In addition to high blood pressure running in her family, both of her grandparents suffered from heart attacks and her uncle had to undergo bypass surgery.

"Almost everyone in my family has high blood pressure, and I’m sure my family’s background is not unique,” she said. “I think it’s important for everybody to be aware of how you can become more heart-healthy and it’s something we all should continually focus on.”

Admittedly, that focus has been blurred in the wake of COVID-19 as people deal with the stresses caused by the pandemic. But Wirkus believes this is also a time when folks can remind themselves how important it is for us to take care of their bodies, especially since people with underlying conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure may face a higher risk of complications if they contract COVID.

“If there was ever a time to take care of yourself, this is it. There’s no greater time with more stress and more opportunities for bad diet choices than now,” she said. “It’s a constant reminder that we all only have one body and we need to be kind to it. We need to be sure it lasts a lifetime.”

Big Lots is a National Wear Red Day Matching Partner.