WASHINGTON, DC, November 1, 2022 – USA for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and BEARPAW, a global leader in fashion footwear for men, women, and children, announced today that BEARPAW donated 120,000 pairs of new winter boots to aid forcibly displaced people in Ukraine. The gift represents the largest donation of winter boots to UNHCR's Winterization Ukraine Emergency Response. This donation is expected to cover 20-25 percent of the population's identified needs. With the assistance of established UNHCR partners in Ukraine, the winter boots will be distributed to families in five regions across the country.
“This donation doesn’t happen without dynamic, collective action and coordination among private sector and nonprofit partners,” says Ian Rodgers, Senior Director, Innovative Partnerships & Strategy at USA for UNHCR. “As temperatures plummet in Ukraine, these winter boots are arriving just in time for families who desperately need them.”
The principal motivation of humanitarian action is to save lives and alleviate suffering in a manner that respects and restores personal dignity. Priority is given to the most urgent cases. Shelter support is lifesaving for people who have lost their homes, and UNHCR provides essential items, including tents, buckets, blankets and sleeping mats. Yet, there is a significant need beyond these core relief items — and protective footwear in the winter is essential to staying dry and warm.
“It’s amazing to know these boots will directly benefit Ukrainian families in need during this challenging winter. Sacramento has one of the highest concentrations of Ukrainian immigrants in the country, and as a Sacramento-based company, we are proud to support our community of friends, family, and neighbors,” said Tom Romeo, Founder, and CEO of BEARPAW.
Winter in Ukraine is harsh, with temperatures regularly dropping below zero. Low temperatures and heavy snowfall make daily life difficult, particularly for families who have been forced to flee their homes. USA for UNHCR's strategic approach to private sector and nonprofit partnerships has strengthened coordination with field operations to respond to areas where needs are most pressing.
Humanity is the main driver for any response to a crisis. Following a request for children’s clothes and warm winter clothing, USA for UNHCR formed innovative partnerships with nonprofits to assist in the effort. The winter boots donation led to technical program support from My New Red Shoes (MNRS), a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life and well-being of children and youth. MNRS coordinated more than 1,000 volunteers from Northern California to assist in processing cargo.
USA for UNHCR leveraged local and industry expertise to strengthen its emergency response. Through the creation of a new partnership with disaster logistics non-profit Airlink, the organization is better able to serve communities in crisis, forming a global logistics partnership. Through Airlink and their donor and digital freight forwarding partner Flexport.org USA for UNHCR received donated transport and logistics services to deliver the winter boots to Kyiv and Lviv, Ukraine.
"We are delighted to be able to support the vital work of USA for UNHCR by helping to deliver this critically needed shipment of winter boots," said Steven J. Smith, President, and CEO of Airlink. "With winter rapidly closing in, the only way to provide at scale for the needs of the Ukrainian people is by utilizing the resources and expertise of the private and philanthropic sectors; bringing those parties together is one of Airlink's key roles, and I'm glad we could play our part."
Flexport.org donated transport and logistics services to deliver the winter boots to Kyiv and Lviv, Ukraine. Flexport.org also provided social and environmental impact tools, including calculating and offsetting 100 percent of the cargo's CO2 emissions through carbon offset credits. Partnerships with Airlink and Flexport.org are examples of how USA for UNHCR is improving the humanitarian response's collective impact and scale.
“Continuing to fulfill the urgent needs for essential items in Ukraine is more important than ever, as winter approaches and temperatures drop in the area,” says Susy Schöneberg, Head of Flexport.org. “Partnerships across private and public sectors enable a more effective humanitarian response, and we’re proud to be part of the collective efforts that USA For UNHCR is leading.”
Businesses interested in supporting humanitarian response efforts with gift-in-kind product donations, please contact Ian Rodgers, Senior Director, Innovative Partnerships & Strategy at USA for UNHCR.
About USA for UNHCR
USA for UNHCR protects refugees and empowers them with hope and opportunity. Supporting UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – and its partners, we provide lifesaving essentials including shelter, water, food, safety and protection. Around the world, we help refugees survive, recover and build a better future. Established by concerned American citizens, USA for UNHCR is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For more information, visit www.UNrefugees.org.
Headquartered in the Sacramento, California area, BEARPAW was founded in 2001 by Tom Romeo with the goal of creating an outdoor lifestyle brand that encourages one to Live Life Comfortably. Warm boots, cozy slippers, and rugged hikers by BEARPAW are made with the finest materials and the highest standards of craftsmanship. BEARPAW Cares stems from Tom’s passion for giving back to people in need and supporting environmental causes. Learn more at http://www.bearpawcares.org
Airlink is a nonprofit organization providing free and heavily subsidized flights and air transport for pre-screened nonprofits to deliver disaster responders and supplies in the wake of humanitarian crises worldwide. Its network includes more than 130 aid organizations and 47 commercial and charter airlines. Its first mission was in response to the Haiti earthquake. Since its inception in 2010, Airlink's airline partners have flown nearly 8,000 relief workers and transported more than 4,000,000 pounds of humanitarian cargo, saving nonprofits over $14 million in air transport costs. Airlink receives in-kind gifts from airlines as well as donations from organizations and individuals within the aviation sector. In 2020 the humanitarian aid Airlink moved assisted 5.5 million people in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. For more information, please visit www.airlinkflight.org.