Bearpaw in partnership with USA for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has 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,” states Ian Rodgers, senior director, Innovative Partnerships & Strategy for USA for UNHCR. “As temperatures plummet in Ukraine, these winter boots are arriving just in time for families who desperately need them.”
“It’s amazing to know these boots will directly benefit Ukrainian families in need during this challenging winter,” says Tom Romeo, founder/CEO of Bearpaw. “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.”
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. Following a request for children’s clothes and winter clothing, USA for UNHCR formed 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. 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, 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,” states Steven J. Smith, president/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 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. “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,” says Susy Schöneberg, head of Flexport.org.
Companies interested in supporting humanitarian response efforts with gift-in-kind product donations to USA For UNHCR can link here.
Bearpaw boots on their way to to displaced people in need in Ukraine as winter sets in.