Australia Bushfire Relief: Helping Our Friends Down Under
Photo by David Clode
“When you’re Australian, with family and friends in harm’s way on the other side of the world, it’s a really isolating feeling. But through KEEN, I don’t feel so alone and helpless anymore. It’s very moving to see everyone jumping in to do everything they can to help.”
Andy Shearer, an Aussie and our Director of Talent Acquisition, was one of the many KEENers who spoke at an emotional all-company meeting on Friday, Jan. 10, to share how KEEN is taking action to help wildlife and communities affected by the bushfires in Australia. As of the date of this post, up to 1 billion mammals, birds, and reptiles have been affected, with millions likely killed, and more than 16 million acres have burned.
From Jan. 14-21, KEEN donated 10% of all sales at keenfootwear.com and in KEEN Garages, plus over 3,000 pairs of boots, to Australia bushfire relief. Our sales and distribution partner on the ground in Australia, Phoenix Leisure Group (PLG), as well as Portland-based gDiapers, joined us by donating 10% of their sales during this time — and KEEN Canada will continue to donate 10% of their sales through Jan. 28.
SUPPORTING VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS
When the fires worsened at the beginning of the year, Andy reached out to family and friends back home to see how KEEN could help. That’s how we got connected with a captain at the Dunmore Rural Fire Brigade, an all-volunteer team of firefighters who are working around the clock to help tackle bushfires in New South Wales. Funds raised through KEEN sales will help them get advanced equipment and gear needed to battle the blazes.
Captain Greg Hardy of the Dunmore Rural Fire Brigade sent thanks to KEEN via a video message from Australia.
“The stories that I’m hearing from my sister show how much support these firefighters need,” Andy says. “On one occasion, they were out on patrol and didn’t realize the fire was so close. They didn’t have time to get their goggles or respirators on. They just huddled beside their truck next to flames that were 60 feet high. This fire, it feels alive. And these men and women are super brave to be out there.”
COMFORTING AFFECTED WILDLIFE
Lisa Holm, KEEN talent sourcing specialist, discovered a unique way to help: by making marsupial pouches to comfort injured and displaced animals for wildlife rescue organizations in Australia. KEEN employees donated supplies and many stayed late one night last week making wildlife pouches. Bat wraps, bird nests, and blankets will also be made in future KEEN Craft for a Cause nights.
Pouch patterns from the Animal Rescue Craft Guild
“It’s heartbreaking to see the damage the fires are causing and hard to comprehend how many people and animals are being displaced and losing everything. I wanted to see how I can help, even if just in a small way,” Lisa says.
DONATING 3,000+ BOOTS
The individual efforts continued to add up. KEEN Senior Director of Organizational Transformation Laura Mansfield, who studied and lived in Australia, reached out to friends at gDiapers who live in Sydney to see how we could team up to help. gDiapers, a Portland-based B Corp that makes more sustainable diapers, is working with us to distribute more than 3,000 pairs of KEEN boots, along with other supplies they're collecting, to several hard-hit communities. Our Australia distributer, PLG, supplied the boots and will help distribute them locally with gDiapers, and both companies joined us in donating 10% of their weekly sales. We are hoping to encourage more partners to join this effort and donate 10% of their weekly sales in January and February.
When such enormous devastation happens, it can feel hard to know how to help and where to start. After 15 years of taking action to help those affected by natural disasters, the one thing we know is that doing — doing anything — makes a difference. And we can make an even bigger difference together.
“This experience underpins for me the forces of climate change that we’re up against, but reminds me of the power of a united response. This world — and saving it — could be the one thing that we all share, the one commonality we have in an ever-increasing polarized world,” Andy says. “Communities uniting around this cause globally is the powerful reassurance all climate warriors need. We aren’t alone in this.”
Since 2003, we’ve donated more than $19 million to nonprofit organizations and causes around the world through disaster relief, shoe donations, and grants. Learn more about our history of taking action and how we put our values in motion.