Why Health Care Workers and Mental Health Were Big Charitable Priorities in 2021

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought with it a new awareness of the fragility of America’s health industry and the limited support system that is available for physical and mental wellness.

Recognizing these shortcomings, shoe brands and retailers have been using the power of their platforms — and their wallets — to benefit both the health community and their own employees, by launching charitable initiatives.

Aiding Essential Workers

At the height of the pandemic, companies and individuals across the globe rallied behind health care workers, who were laboring tirelessly amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Though public attention has now waned, footwear brands continue to lend their support.

Over the course of a week in May, Crocs gave away a total of 50,000 shoes to health care workers who applied through its website. And earlier in the year, it teamed up with ambassador Post Malone and nonprofit Musicians on Call to donate 10,000 pairs of the Post Malone x Crocs Duet Max Clog II to caregivers and staff at MOC’s roughly 70 hospital partners.

Meanwhile, in May, Martha Stewart and Easy Spirit donated 20% of proceeds from their Martha Stewart x Easy Spirit collab clog to Mount Sinai Health System’s Martha Stewart Centers for Living and gave away shoes to the hospital’s workers.

Other brands that showed their appreciation for nurses this year included Oofos, Lamo, Alegria and Brooks.

Advancing Mental Health

Employee health and wellness has never been more important amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As stress, anxiety and depression have increased globally, many companies began to prioritize employee mental health in 2020 and are continuing to do that today.

Leading the pack is Nike. To avoid employee burnout, the sportswear giant closed all of its offices worldwide for a week in August to give its employees additional time off to recover and rest. Plus, the Swoosh has been an outward proponent for destigmatizing mental health issues — most notably this summer when it stood behind Nike athlete Naomi Osaka as she pulled out of the 2021 French Open for mental health reasons. And in May, the brand also teamed up with Crisis Text Line with the goal to advance the conversation around the importance of mental health and expand the direct line of support to those in need.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Cole and his brand also continued their efforts to support mental wellness through the Mental Health Coalition. Founded last May, the organization centers around a large-scale commitment is bringing nonprofits and businesses together with celebrities and influencers like Oprah Winfrey, in a coordinated effort to destigmatize mental health conditions.

Most recently, Lululemon made headlines for launching the Centre for Social Impact last month, which will consolidate the company’s various wellness programs and create new tools for advocacy, philanthropy and research. The initiative aims to help Lululemon meet its social and well-being commitments — that includes investing at least $75 million to advance wellness for more than 10 million people across the world by 2025.

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