60 Footwear Companies to Send 3,000 Employees to help out in 43 Cities
Other American industries would do well to study the survival tactics of the U.S. footwear industry. In 1939 during the Great Depression at 210 Lincoln Street in Boston, shoe workers began the practice of passing the hat to collect money to help other shoe workers in need. Seventy-four years later the Two Ten Footwear Foundation ( www.twoten.org/ )helps the 200,000 American footwear employees in competitive companies survive. For example, in 2012 Two Ten received over 2,000 calls for help and distributed over $1.75 million in financial assistance and delivered over $700,000 in college scholarships to footwear families. What other industry can claim to have done the following for its’ members?
- Prevented 1,649 evictions in two years
- Provided 938 footwear families with emergency utility payments in two years
- Supplied 398 footwear workers with emergency car loan/repair funds in two years
- $2 million in financial support and scholarships each year
- 2,500 connected through Two Ten events each year
- 2,000 families supported during times of pressing need each year
- 5,000 students supported through scholarships since 1969
Two Ten Footwear Foundation’s organized generosity will be on full display during National Volunteer Week when 60 footwear organizations and 2,500 to 3,000 volunteers in 43 cities across the country will help out in their communities for the footwear industry’s first-ever “Footwear Cares” National Footwear Community Service Week, April 21-27. Footwear companies across the country are choosing a day during which they provide action and help to support local communities and charities. It could involve gathering and distributing donations for a local food bank, pitching-in with community service projects, or providing other assistance.
Participating cities include New York, Boston, Columbus, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Rockford MI. Among the participating companies are Steven Madden, Ltd., New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc., Zappos.com, Puma, The Timberland Co., Clarks and Brown Shoe Company. Sponsors for the week include Benevity, Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America, Footwear Plus, H.H. Brown, Insource Services, Inc., National Shoe Retailers Association, SEI Institutional Group and United Shoe Retailers Association. You can follow and/or comment on Twitter at #footwearcares.
It is safe to say that never before have American men and women had so many footwear options. In addition to large companies like H.H. Brown Shoe Company, The Jones Company/Nine West, Wolverine Worldwide, Weyco Group (Florsheim, etc.) and G.H. Bass & Co., there are family-run businesses like Dansko, Mason Company, Evolution Design Lab (Prima Royale brand), Deer Stags, and Minnetonka Moccasin.
Some companies have been around for a century, like Clark’s at 185 years old, Wolverine Worldwide at 125, and Barbour Corporation at 121, having made combat boots during both World Wars. While Quabaug, established in 1916, continues to make shoes for the military. Companies such as New Balance, H.H. Brown, Justin Brands, and Munro & Company proudly manufacture in the U.S.
In the fashion world, there is Michael Kors footwear, Steven Madden and Schwartz & Benjamin (DVF, Kate Spade, Juicy Couture and Seven brands). Athletic shoe companies include Reebok, Skechers, Puma, New Balance and Adidas, while online shoe retailers like Zappos, shoebuy.com and planetshoes.com offer consumers additional shoe-buying options.
“Footwear companies have a spirit of generosity unmatched by any other industry in the USA. Footwear Cares is just one remarkable example of how deep footwear companies are committed to improving the quality of life in our local communities where we live, work and play.” said Two Ten Footwear Foundation President Neal Newman.
Tobias Reiss-Schmidt, president and CEO of The Rockport Co., noted that participating in Footwear Cares is a way of unifying the shoe industry. “It’s very unique that companies that compete on a daily basis can join forces to help people in the larger community,” he said. “It’s part of the culture of the industry and very much a part of the culture here at Rockport.”
During the community service week, Rockport will host a career day with a local high school, where the firm will teach teens about different job opportunities in the footwear industry.
And while there is no financial gain for participating, Reiss-Schmidt noted there is a benefit to employee morale. “It absolutely makes sense for us to be involved because it creates a sense of community for everyone in the company,” he said. “It’s very rewarding for employees to be part of something beyond just trying to sell shoes.”
Jennet Chow, founder and CEO of Irwindale, Calif.-based Evolution Design Labs, said the new initiative will strengthen Two Ten’s national outreach beyond just footwear. Her company plans to work with food banks in Los Angeles and Milwaukee during the week.
“We’ve always been very involved in Two Ten because they’ve been so supportive of us as a company,” Chow said. “It’s exciting to see all the footwear companies come together and work to help more people outside of the industry.”
Chairman of the Two Ten Board, Jim Salzano, President of The Clarks Companies, N.A., said, “I am delighted that we will be harnessing the good will already brimming over from our Two Ten companies and their workers. Involvement in Two Ten has always been about doing the right thing for our industry, our workforce and our communities. “Footwear Cares” is a wonderful opportunity for our industry to shine.”
“National Footwear Community Service Week is a great way for companies from the footwear industry to give back while reminding ourselves that we all work toward common goals,” said Steve Madden, founder of Steven Madden, Ltd. Last February, Steve and Wendy Madden gave an unrestricted $1 million donation to Two Ten Footwear Foundation, to reach more people and increase the national impact of the Foundation.
About Two Ten Footwear Foundation
Two Ten Footwear Foundation is the charitable foundation of the U.S. footwear industry. Founded in Boston in 1939, when the average wage for a shoe salesman was $60 a month and unemployment was 17%. Every Wednesday evening brought salesmen together to pass a hat in order to support their friends who were out of work. Today, Two Ten continues the tradition of shoepeople helping shoepeople. Every dollar raised from the footwear industry goes right back to help shoepeople and their families who need help. Two Ten serves hundreds of thousands of footwear workers every year with emergency financial assistance, confidential counseling, referrals to community-based social services, information about rights and benefits, higher education scholarships, and sensational networking opportunities that strengthens footwear unity.
A Unique Spirit of Support Was Born of Need and Endures Today
The Two Ten Footwear Foundation got its’ start in 1939 during The Great Depression. War was raging in Europe. There was mass migration to the U.S. and unemployment was at 17 percent. Acts of kindness were in short supply. Yet, each week at 210 Lincoln Street in Boston, dozens of shoe salesmen gathered to share stories and ‘pass the hat’ to collect money and support their friends in need. This weekly routine grew and became the rallying cry for an entire industry: Shoe people helping shoe people.
This spirit of generosity didn’t end with the Depression. For 74 years, Two Ten Footwear Foundation has remained true to one simple, but compelling and distinctive purpose to improve the lives of footwear workers, and their families, in the United States.
Services provided by the Two Ten Footwear Foundation:
- Scholarships – Two Ten offers eligible footwear families higher education scholarships. We also partner with specialty footwear design programs to advance the careers of designers.
- Women in Footwear Industry (WIFI) – Two Ten connects hundreds of women from all over the country to power a vibrant community of women leaders for the future of the footwear industry.
- Young Professionals for Two Ten (YP210) – Two Ten helps bring together young and emerging footwear leaders who can guide them.
- Human Resources Annual Leadership Summit – Two Ten creates networking and educational opportunities for human resources professionals who work closely with us to strengthen the footwear community.
- Industry Events – Two Ten hosts many events, including the beloved Annual Gala Dinner, and the Fromm Forum which engages industry leaders in key issues facing footwear.
- Careers Portal – Two Ten connects employers and those seeking employment through our online portal. Visit Two Ten’s Careers Portal at www.210careers.org
- Financial Assistance – We deliver short-term financial assistance for housing costs, utility bills and other emergencies.
- Crisis Counseling – We provide confidential phone support to shoe people 365/24/7 who need a listening ear.
- Community Resources – We connect shoe people with local government, nonprofit and private resources and organizations to help get you back on your feet.
- Footwear Community Service Week – Each year, Two Ten mobilizes thousands of footwear workers to give their volunteer time to help local charities that strengthen the communities we live and work in.
List of Footwear Companies Participating in Footwear Cares Community Service Week
- Asics America Corp.
- BBC International LLC
- Barbour Welting
- The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc.
- Brown Shoe Company
- DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse
- Deckers Outdoor Corporation
- Deer Stags Concepts
- Diba Imports
- Earth, Inc.
- Eastman Group
- Elan Polo International
- Evolution Design Lab (EDL)
- Footwear Plus
- Foot Petals
- G.H. Bass & Co.
- Hawley Lane Shoes
- Highline United
- In California Inc.
- J. Renee
- Jimlar Corporation
- The Jones Group
- Marc Fisher Footwear
- Mark Lemp Footwear
- Mason Companies, Inc.
- Michael Kors
- National Shoe Travelers (NST)
- New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc.
- Pentland USA, Inc.
- Quabaug Corporation
- RG Barry Brands
- Reebok International, Ltd.
- The Rockport Co.
- Rocky Brands, Inc.
- Sam Edelman
- Schwartz & Benjamin, Inc.
- Schwilliamz Creative Consultants
- Shoe Sensation, Inc.
- Skechers USA, Inc.
- Steven Madden, Ltd.
- The Timberland Co.
- Under Armour, Inc.
- WEYCO Group Inc.
- Wolverine Worldwide
- Yellow Box Corporation