Toyota Motor North America, in efforts to be more than just a car company, demonstrated its commitment to ‘enriching lives one step at a time’ and serving local communities by donating winter boots and socks to families in need through its “Walk In My Boots” community outreach program.
After showcasing an assortment of vehicles at the Baltimore Auto Show, Toyota partnered with The Salvation Army of Central Maryland to give several families—some of whom were from The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Franklin Square and Middle River—175 pairs of Bogs waterproof insulated boots and Smartwool socks fashioned to protect the wearer’s feet from harsh weather conditions at the Salvation Army Warehouse on East 29th Street on Feb. 16, 2019.
“Winter can be the hardest season for low-income families. While many programs offer winter coat giveaways, a person’s feet are often left vulnerable as many are often forced to use local modes of transportation such as taking the bus or walking in harsh elements,” says a statement released by The Salvation Army and Toyota.
“When temperatures drop below freezing, or the snow and rain take center stage, people are at severe risk for hypothermia to set in and consequences can be fatal. Having the proper footwear can help keep feet dry, comfortable and warm for longer periods of time.”
Before the giveaways, officials from Toyota and The Salvation Army gave heartfelt remarks and expressed how elated they were to be a part of a philanthropic partnership designed to give back to less fortunate families in Baltimore City and surrounding areas.
Quinetta Cooper and her four children were one of the special, spotlighted families presented with boots during the program.
“It’s truly a blessing to have received these boots and to be surrounded by great people,” said Cooper, a resident of Middle River. “It’s just a pleasure to be here.”
Also in attendance was special guest speaker, comedian and Baltimore native MESHELLE, who gave words of encouragement to the audience.
Alva Adams, the founder of Walk In My Boots, said the program started in 2011 after she saw a need to give back to the underprivileged communities who might have undergone hardships in extremely frigid weather conditions. The event began in Detroit and has been in Baltimore since 2017, she said.
“Anything that Toyota can do to help families, to help communities to get to their dreams, to accomplish their dreams—it just makes us feel really, really great as a company,” said Adams, the director of multicultural business and strategy and dealer relations with Toyota Motor North America.
“It makes us want to continue to do more in the community; to help build their confidence, to help build their self-esteem, to let them know that we’re behind you. You know, let’s start our impossible together, let’s go places together.”
In addition to Detroit and Baltimore, Toyota holds annual Walk In My Boots giveaways in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
JoAnne Clatterbuck, a resident of the Woodberry neighborhood in Baltimore, showed up with her two grandchildren and a great grandchild to receive boots and socks.
“It means a lot. Like I said, my daughter belongs to the Salvation Army and they’ve helped me out a lot with the children, with the grandchildren. I’ve always appreciated that.”
Furthermore, Toyota presented a $15,000 check, along with an additional $10,000, to The Salvation Army of Central Maryland, enabling the organization to continue its support for less fortunate children and families.
“By Toyota offering these high-quality boots for [our clients], not only does it stretch the life of their own shoes but they’re able to walk in the winter with comfort and not have to worry about walking in wet shoes. So, I think it means a lot” said Gene Hogg, the area commander of The Salvation Army of Central Maryland.
At the conclusion of the program, participants were served a buffet luncheon prepared by Black Tie Caterers, courtesy of Toyota. Children received various coloring books that were signed and distributed by Munson Steed, CEO of Steed Media and founder of Rolling Out Magazine.
According to Hogg, the funds donated to The Salvation Army will go to the programming involved in the organization’s Boys & Girls Clubs located in Franklin Square, Middle River and Glen Burnie.