As Fires Continue in California, Victims Receive Support From the Shoe Industry

The California wildfires continue to ravage the state, with the death toll now climbing to 31 and thousands of residents left homeless.

While the National Weather Service is reporting that extremely critical weather conditions continue, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has allowed residents to return to their homes in areas including Agoura Hills and Westlake Village, in addition to Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park.

According to a resident of Westlake Village, stores have announced they have reopened by posting signs in the window. Several, she said, are giving discounts of 10 to 30 percent to “give back” to the community. However, she added, new fires are starting north of the area, forcing freeways to close.

Personal property and the lives of thousands of area residents have been impacted, with many in the shoe industry reporting losses. However, the footwear community has stepped up its efforts to assist those in need of emergency services and support.

Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie was evacuated from his home in Southern California along with his family. But the brand’s chief shoe giver assured friends in an Instagram post yesterday that the Mycoskies are all safe and that he and the Toms team are looking for ways to aid people — and animals — affected by the wildfires.

In addition, Terri Rawson, chief marketing and development officer for Two Ten Footwear Foundation (and a native Californian) told FN, “Earthquakes have always been the natural disaster for us to be on alert for; now it’s wildfires the likes of which the state has never before experienced.”

According to Rawson, Two Ten will provide immediate assistance to help families get into safe temporary housing and obtain basic necessities. “In addition to closely monitoring news services, we have a Two Ten staff member based in Southern California who is our eyes and ears, and is staying connected to footwear companies based in California,” she said.

Two Ten also is working with partner associations to reach as many footwear employees as possible and to help identify those in need of help. “We have several board members whose companies are based in California, who are working to quickly identify their employees in crisis so they can refer them directly to Two Ten,” added Rawson.

Footwear employees impacted by the fires can contact Two Ten immediately online or call the organization at (800) 346-3210. Anyone interested in helping their footwear colleagues can do so by making a donation to the Two Ten Disaster Relief fund online.

Woolsey Fire California Wildfires
Firefighters work to extinguish flames from the Woolsey Fire in West Hills, Calif.

Like Two Ten, the Soles4Souls charity is lending its support. Brian Granfors, VP of marketing and communications, said, “We have been working with our Regional Donation Center based out of Riverside, Calif., to begin preparing shoe and apparel donations to those affected. Soles4Souls will work with partner organizations on the ground in those communities to distribute to those in need.”

Granfors noted that Soles4Souls is seeking donated product from retailers and manufacturers to provide relief to affected areas in the upcoming weeks and months.

Retailers and manufacturers interested in donating to Soles4Souls can contact Pattie Graben, VP of corporate development, at pattieg@soles4souls.org or (615) 541-7007. Individuals or groups outside the industry who would like to contribute can learn more about the nonprofit’s disaster relief program online.

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Retailers Close Shop & Residents Flee as California Wildfires Rage Across the State

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