Shoes Are an Unexpected Need for Health-Care Workers During Coronavirus Crisis — How Allbirds, Keen & More Are Helping

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to escalate in the United States and globally, aid from the footwear industry in the form of monetary support and shoe donations is also growing. While nonessential employees across the country have increasingly been urged to stay at home, many footwear companies are continuing to keep their warehouses open in an effort to ship donated products to those in health care.

Donated products can range from casuals for support staff to duty shoes that feature slip-resistant outsoles for workers on the front lines. Many styles have surfaces that can easily be disinfected with solutions they can make at home to take the place of professional products, which are in short supply these days. Some shoe styles can also be machine washed and air-dried.

Here is how footwear companies are contributing product and creating awareness.

Aerosoles

Fashion-comfort brand Aerosoles is donating pairs of sneaker styles to health-care workers and other essential workers in the coronavirus fight. To request a pair for yourself or a family member of friend, simply email sharethelove@aerosoles.com. In addition, the company is donating 10% of the proceeds from its Share the Love collection to Feeding America.

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Floafers

In response to requests by Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, N.J., for protective gear, Floafers has shipped 1,000 pairs of footwear to the facility and sister hospitals in the the state’s Atlantic Health System. According to Larry Paparo, CEO and president of Floafers, the foam EVA shoes can be sanitized to protect health-care workers and the patients they are aiding. Consumers can go to Floafers.com and enter the code “Help Our Nurses”; the company will allot a portion of the sale towards a fund to continue to donate shoes.

Crocs

The company has announced the launch of “A Free Pair for Healthcare.” Starting on March 25, Crocs will offer health-care workers in the U.S. the chance to get a free pair of shoes while supplies last, choosing from select Classic Clogs and Crocs At Work styles with free shipping through its website. The website will open at about 12 p.m. EST daily and will remain open until that day’s free pair allotment has been fulfilled. In addition, the company is committed to donating up to 100,000 pairs of shoes to be distributed across a number of select health-care facilities and organizations.

Merrell

Since March 23, Merrell has delivered 1,200 pairs of shoes and boots to local hospitals in West Michigan including Spectrum Health and Mercy Health, as well as to the Grand Rapids Fire Department and Police Department. “Merrell could not be more proud to call West Michigan home and we want to support those on the frontlines working tirelessly to protect the health and safety of everyone in our community and beyond,” said Lauren King, senior marketing manager. “We hope a new pair of shoes can be a bright spot for these brave people during these unprecedented times, and we thank them for their work and service to our community.”

Oofos

The comfort and recovery shoe brand is implementing a multilayered program to help those impacted by the coronavirus. Beginning on March 27, the company will launch the first phase by donating more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to nurses and medical professionals in the U.S. The seven in-person shoe drops will take place at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston; Swedish Hospital in Chicago; Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Prebys Cardiovascular Institute at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California; Palomar Medical Center Poway in Poway, California; Hackensack Meridian Health at Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, New Jersey; and WellStar Atlanta Medical Center in Atlanta.

Allbirds

The company has pledged to donate thousands of pairs of its Wool Runners to individuals in the U.S. working in the health-care community during the coronavirus crisis. Those interested can reach out to the company by emailing together@allbirds.com to place an order for a complementary pair. “It’s hard to navigate the unknown, but as we continue to better understand how to slow the spread of COVID-19, we want to do all we can to keep our customers, employees and local communities safe,” said the company on an Instagram post. So far, it has given $500,000 worth of shoes to health-care workers. And, beginning on March 24, and while supplies last, it’s extending the program even further with a buy-one-give-one option. For anyone buying a pair of Allbirds in the U.S., the brand will split the cost of donating a pair of Wool Runners or alternatively, shoppers can donate a pair directly to themselves. The company also alerted consumers that its U.S. and European stores will be closed March 17–27; all employees will receive full pay and benefits during that time.

Keen

The outdoor and utility brand announced it will give away 100,000 pairs of shoes, valued at approximately $10 million, to those affected by the COVID-19 crisis, including health-care professionals and people who have lost their jobs. The Portland, Ore.-based outdoor brand is asking people to nominate individuals in need on its website. “The Together We Can Help initiative is fundamentally about enabling people to take positive action and build connection in a time of increasing isolation,” said Keen Global GM Erik Burbank, in a news release. “We believe allowing people to pay it forward by providing someone in their community with a free pair of shoes will help build connection at a time of great need.”

Okabashi

According to CEO Sara Irvani, the Buford, Ga.-based company has reached out to federal authorities with an offer to donate shoes that can be disinfected after use. “As a third-generation, family-operated business, we have seen many changes — from offshoring, to economic cycles, to changing habits,” said Irvani. “Through it all, we have always pulled through with positivity and teamwork.

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