Editor Note: During the North American International Auto Show, Detroit Unspun/The HUB will bring you stories about what the auto industry is doing to help transform Detroit and its neighborhoods.
Up to 200 low-income families on the east side of Detroit received boots and socks at a Salvation Army satellite office in early January thanks to a campaign called “Toyota Walk in My Boots.”
“Toyota believes in doing something major to help the communities it serves at the same time that it reveals new products at the auto show,” says Crystal Williams, owner of Crystal Vision Communications and a spokesperson for Toyota’s diversity efforts.
“The need is so great, well over two-thirds of the people living on the east side of Detroit can’t afford basic needs like housing and health care, even when family members are employed,” she adds. “Without proper boots and socks people are at a higher risk of frostbite and hypothermia. They are more susceptible of all kinds of illnesses.”
Toyota Motor North America and the Salvation Army of Metro Detroit staged a giveaway at the Salvation Army Conner Creek Corps Community Center where people gather for meals and activities. Participants came from the community and from the 90-day residential program for homeless women and children called the Salvation Army Booth Services of Detroit.
The boots are brand new, insulated Bogs that weather three seasons. Toyota also gave a $15,000 donation to the Salvation Army, enabling it to provide refuge for children and families in times of crisis. The boot giveaway included a Thanksgiving-style buffet lunch for families.
“This is the fifth year Toyota has worked with the Salvation Army on donations,” Williams says.
The global auto company also makes community donations annually in Washington D.C., and Chicago and will add Baltimore this year. The donations are usually a prelude to auto shows in these towns.
“People cherish the boots,” says Major Russell Sjogren, Detroit area commander of the Salvation Army of Metro Detroit. “They have little money for food and transportation let alone warm, dry shoes. They wait at bus stops and walk to destinations. Boots will come in handy.”
Sjogren says still more volunteers and donations are needed to address the crying needs of the impoverished in Detroit. Its Bed and Bread program serves more than 4,200 meals a day and provides shelter for 550 people a day.
A contribution of just $10 a month goes a long way to feed and shelter the hungry. Visit the Salvation Army website for more details.