On November 8th, 2013, one of the largest storms in recorded history swept through the Philippines. In less than 24 hours, Typhoon Haiyan drastically impacted 10% of the nation’s population — over 13 million people.
The next day, our owner told us he wanted to pull 30,000 pairs of KEENs from inventory and donate them to the relief effort. We were proud, humbled and ready to start working to make it happen.
Before sending the shoes, our first relief effort priority was to ensure that our longtime Hybrid.Care partner, Mercy Corps, was supported and that the organization’s Disaster Response Corps was equipped to do what they do best: respond immediately to fulfill basic needs and promptly establish a sustainable long-term plan to help locals rebuild and recover. Within two weeks of the disaster, Mercy Corps’ Disaster Response Corps had delivered over 18,000 emergency food packs and essential hygiene items to survivors living in remote areas receiving little to no aid.
Meanwhile, everyone at KEEN had started organizing. Our logistics team immediately began putting in extra time to coordinate overseas shipping efforts, customs documentation and the de-boxing, pairing and re-packing of 30,000 pairs of shoes. Our Philippines distributor, PRIMER, kindly volunteered to accept the donation and began working diligently with a well-known and respected local organization, to devise an itinerary to distribute product to the areas in need of footwear the most. It was a full KEEN team effort, with everyone utilizing their unique skills to make a difference.
Last week, 30,000 pairs of shoes arrived and were secured in the Philippines. I am on a plane en route to Manila as I type and for four days I’ll be on the ground with 15 others — three colleagues from KEEN Japan, volunteers from a local organization named Team Patola and PRIMER. Together, we’ll be experiencing the reason why everyone dropped everything and began doing what they could do to make a difference. We will be handing KEENs to men, women and children who are in need of protective footwear.
So, so, so many thanks to our good friends and partners at PRIMER for spending countless hours organizing what will definitely be a life-changing trip for everyone involved — an event that anyone connected to KEEN should be proud of. A big thanks to everyone on the KEEN team for contributing in unique ways to make this donation possible, and thanks to our owner for empowering us all to make a difference. It is an honor to work at a company that not only cares about building strong communities and doing the right thing, but also encourages its employees to follow their passions and use their unique stills to make a difference in the world.