Two Ten Significantly Increases Aid to Industry

NEW YORK — It’s shaping up to be a busy year for the Two Ten Footwear Foundation.

With the economy still uncertain, the Boston-based charity has seen a dramatic increase in calls for assistance over the past few months.

“When the going gets tough, we are incredibly committed to helping people,” said Two Ten President Peggy Kim Meill.

She said that while the economic mood is brightening, there are still many people in the industry who are unemployed or underemployed, and that Two Ten has been able to make a difference in their lives this year.

In March, the group provided assistance to 114 people, compared with 41 people in March 2009. Overall, Two Ten distributed $188,246, an increase of 347 percent from a year ago.

And as of last Tuesday, the organization had assisted 95 people in April, compared with 78 for the entire month of April 2009.

Ross Evans, VP of marketing and community initiatives for Two Ten, said the group had worked hard to ramp up communication about its services over the past year.

A new Two Ten Website, ads in Footwear News and partnerships with individual companies have all been crucial to drawing more people to the group.

At Brown Shoe Co., for example, the company has embarked on a communications campaign to inform employees both at the corporate level and in its stores about Two Ten’s mission.

Similarly, at Nine West, Two Ten executives spent two days with company leaders to hash out an action plan for outreach to its staff.

“We’re doing whatever it takes to get the word out,” Evans said. “The [difficult times] aren’t over.”

In addition, the organization continues to build up two of its newest groups: Young Professionals for Two Ten and the Two Ten Women in Footwear initiative.

The young professionals group will hold its next event — a fundraiser and celebration of Steve Madden’s 20th anniversary — on June 9 at New York’s The Back Room. The theme of the event will be “Christmas in June.”

Meanwhile, Two Ten’s new women’s group has been holding preliminary meetings in advance of its kick-off event on Aug. 4.

The goal of the group is to have an open dialogue about the major issues that women face in a still male-dominated industry, provide mentoring to younger women in the business and encourage advancement in leadership roles.

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