In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Toyota Motor North America continued its commitment to support the local community for the tenth consecutive year through its “Walk In My Boots” community outreach project. On Saturday, January 16, 2021, Toyota stepped in to protect Detroit area homeless women and low-income families from the cold by donating new insulated winter boots, guaranteed to weather harsh conditions, and Smartwool socks to more than 100 residents of The Salvation Army (TSA) Detroit Harbor Light/Booth Family Shelter, a homeless shelter primarily for women and single mothers and their children, and local families from the TSA Pathway of Hope program.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected every community in different ways. Homeless people are one of the most vulnerable populations in the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent report published by the nonprofit National Alliance to End Homelessness says that the homeless population in the U.S. “are twice as likely to be hospitalized, two to four times as likely to require critical care, and two to three times as likely to die as the general population” as a result of the pandemic. The disease has indeed struck the homeless living on streets and in shelters throughout the U.S., and cases are climbing among this highly at-risk group.
“At Toyota, we are more than just a car company,” said Alva Adams Mason, senior director, Multicultural Business Alliance and Strategy, and Multicultural Dealer Relations, Toyota Motor North America. “We’re passionate about serving the communities where we live, work, and play. And we hope that our donation of winter boots and socks to the families will help to enrich their lives…one step at a time in these times of crises. We also want the work that is being done at The Salvation Army Harbor Light/Booth Family Shelter to continue for years to come.”
Winter is the hardest time of year for homeless and low-income families. When temperatures drop below freezing as they often do in Michigan, people are at severe risk for hypothermia to set in and consequences can be fatal. While many programs offer winter coat giveaways, a person’s feet are often left exposed as many low-income families use local modes of transportation like taking the bus or walking in harsh elements. The timing of the winter boots and socks giveaway was a comfort to many as freezing rain and cold temperatures hit Michigan this weekend.
“It’s important to protect one’s feet, especially when dealing with Michigan’s brutal cold temperatures and wintry weather,” says Jamie Winkler, executive director of The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Harbor Light System. “The Salvation Army is appreciative of Toyota Motor North America’s Walk in My Boots program. We are blessed to have support from good corporate citizens who are ‘Doing the Most Good’ by raising awareness of our mission to feed, clothe and shelter those who are less fortunate.”
Toyota donated $15,000 to The Salvation Army Harbor Light/Booth Family Shelter enabling them to continue to provide refuge for homeless women and low-income families in times of crisis. The families were also treated to a catered luncheon. Through this program, in Detroit alone, Toyota has donated over 1,700 pairs of winter boots and contributed more than $130,000 to the TSA Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division. The project has also been held in Chicago, Washington DC, Baltimore, and Harrisburg, PA.