Toyota Donation Keeps Chicagoans Facing Homelessness Warm this Winter
On Saturday, February 13, more than 200 residents of The Salvation Army Evangeline Booth Lodge, a family homeless shelter in Chicago, received winter boots and wool socks from Toyota as part of their “Walk in My Boots” community outreach program.
While Toyota usually distributes these items at the same time as the Chicago Auto Show, that iconic event has shifted from winter to spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Toyota kept its commitment to support local families facing homelessness this winter. In addition to the boots and socks, Toyota donated $15,000 to The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division, enabling them to continue to provide support for families in times of crisis.
“At Toyota, we’re more than just a car company that builds great cars and trucks,” said Alva Adams Mason, senior director, Multicultural Business Alliance and Strategy, and Multicultural Dealer Relations, Toyota Motor North America. “We care about the communities in which we live, work and play. The COVID-19 environment has been extremely hard on families in need, and we hope that our donation of winter boots and socks will help to enrich their lives . . . one step at a time in these times of crises. We also want the work that is being done at The Salvation Army Evangeline Booth Lodge to continue for years to come.”
The boots and socks came in handy for many homeless residents as snow and record low temperatures fell upon the Chicago area this week. People experiencing homelessness have a much higher risk than the general population of developing winter exposure-related conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite. While many programs offer winter coat and hat giveaways, a person’s feet are often left exposed. Homeless and low-income families frequently use local forms of transportation like taking the bus or walking in harsh elements. With this donation, many families will be protected from the cold.
Through this program, in Chicago alone, Toyota has donated more than 1,600 pairs of winter boots and socks to help families in need while contributing over $120,000 to The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division in the Chicago area. “We are so grateful to Toyota for their continued support of our mission,” said Lt. Colonel Lonneal Richardson, Salvation Army Metropolitan Divisional Commander. “Homelessness is a terrible burden that is compounded in the wake of a pandemic and a lack of proper winter gear. Toyota’s generous donations of warm socks and boots will give comfort to those we serve.”
Currently, nearly one of every 20 Chicagoans is homeless. That means families are sleeping on the streets, in cars, or moving from family home to family home. This population is most vulnerable during the coldest months of the year. The Salvation Army Evangeline Booth Lodge is a shelter for women and men with children, along with married couples with children suddenly homeless because of eviction, disasters such as a fire or flood, loss of utilities, domestic violence, being stranded while traveling, or other crises. The Booth Lodge can accommodate as many as 60 families each night. The average stay is 63 days, but some stay longer, depending on the time needed to locate permanent living arrangements.
While the families received winter boots and socks, they were also treated to a “Thanksgiving-style” social distance catered luncheon prepared by Fanfares Catering of Chicago. This is Toyota’s eighth consecutive year supporting the program in Chicago. The project has also been held in Detroit, Baltimore, Washington DC, and Harrisburg, PA.