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Social empowerment: Keen, Eagle Creek and McCarthy

SNEWS® is this week launching a regular column (regular implying that when we have news, we'll publish it) focusing the spotlight on goodwill of industry friends who are, either as a company, or as individuals, stepping up to social responsibility. Our inaugural column looks at the good works of Keen, Eagle Creek and independent rep Tom McCarthy.

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SNEWS® is this week launching a regular column (regular implying that when we have news, we’ll publish it) focusing the spotlight on goodwill of industry friends who are, either as a company, or as individuals, stepping up to social responsibility. While Timberland has popularized the phrase “doing well by doing good,” we’re dubbing the column, “Social Empowerment.” This column, coupled with our monthly environmentally-focused “Green Scene” column will, we trust inspire, challenge, and offer opportunity for each one of us to look inside our own lives, and those of the companies we work for and with, to ensure that we are doing all we can socially and environmentally. If you know of a company, an organization or an individual that deserves mention by the SNEWS® team, send an email to:

Keen shifts $1 million from advertising to charitable donations
The Tsunami that hit Asia changed the way many think and act toward humanity. Increasingly, companies and individuals are looking inward to determine what more can be done to make a difference in the world. Keen became a poster-child for making bold statements when company CEO Angel Martinez announced earlier this year that his company, with the blessing of everyone at Keen, would be diverting $1 million originally allocated toward a 2005 Keen Footwear advertising campaign into a fund to be set aside for contributions to a variety of non-profit organizations that are important to the company and its employees.

“When we were young adults, we always said that when it was our turn to be in charge, we’d do things differently than previous generations. We will be more responsible citizens of the planet, more tolerant of other cultures and ideas, and will exercise our power as individuals,” Martinez said in a statement. “Even though Keen is still in its infancy as a footwear company, it’s never too soon to step exactly in the direction of the future we want to build.”

Keen has already donated an undisclosed amount to tsunami relief through AmeriCares, and is in discussions with both The Conservation Alliance ( and Big City Mountaineers ( to provide support for both entities that will further their efforts to reach out and empower others.

It is Keen’s plan, representatives told us at Outdoor Retailer, to set up a foundation that will keep alive Keen’s vision to be a business that acts responsibly and charitably.

Martinez issued the following challenge: Keen Footwear encourages its industry partners, customers and retailers to visit to learn more about the causes it has chosen to support, and how to become more involved — not just with the non-profit organizations that Keen supports, but in their own local communities and charities that inspire them.

Eagle Creek and participating retailers look to aid those who are homeless or in domestic violence situations
Noting there are nearly 800,000 homeless people on any given night in the United States, and more than 50 percent of all homeless women and children are fleeing domestic violence, Eagle Creek has introduced a national wheeled-luggage public collection program that will directly benefit those who are in homeless or domestic violence situations. During the month of March 2005, consumers may turn in any wheeled luggage piece at participating outdoor and travel retailers, which will then received by homeless and women’s shelters in the respective retailers’ local communities.

Incentive for consumer participation, in addition to supporting the important work of local shelters, comes in the form of a $25 rebate toward the purchase of any new wheeled Eagle Creek item. To participate, consumers are encouraged to return any clean, empty and usable wheeled luggage to participating retailers.

Eagle Creek is promoting this effort at retail with a merchandising kit of large format posters and product hangtags and suggesting that retailers with the display room pile up the returned pieces in the middle of the store to catch the attention of shoppers. Retailers have also been supplied with package Inserts to alert their customers of the program.

The shelters themselves (over 90 shelters are participating throughout North America and Canada, SNEWS® is told) are reaching out to their local media asking for promotion, and the over 160 retail locations participating in the program are also sending out their own releases locally with a few placing ads in local papers.

Eagle Creek will be sending over 100,000 emails announcing the program to existing Eagle Creek customers and Eagle Creek’s homepage will be dedicated to the program during the month of March. The company is also asking its online partners to reach out to their lists.

Adam Ziegelman of Eagle Creek told SNEWS®, “Any wheeled piece can be returned — from any brand (as long as it is still functional) — to get the $25 rebate.” At the end of the month, retailers have been instructed to deliver the donated luggage items to their pre-assigned women’s or homeless shelter.

Retailers are also invested in the effort as Eagle Creek is splitting the cost of the $25 rebate with the dealer. Each dealer is required to fill out a rebate form which has signatures from both the consumer and the retailer, a copy of the receipt, as well as info on what was returned. Eagle Creek will then use these forms to credit each retailer’s account for $12.50 per rebate form.

Vermont couple seeks donations to ship orthopedic equipment to Vietnamese children with disabilities
Tom McCarthy, an independent rep in the Northeast for Big Agnes, Leki, McNett, Optic Nerve and Osprey, and his wife, Marie MacLeod, are seeking industry donations (as in financial) to assist them in shipping wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, crutches, seating systems, strollers, splints, AT devices, ADL aids, bath chairs and more to children in need at orphanages and hospitals in Vietnam.

McCarthy and MacLeod will be traveling to Vietnam in April — McCarthy for business with Osprey, and MacLeod to volunteer in orphanages, clinic and schools. Working with Diane Wren, Osprey-owner Michael Pfotenhauer’s wife currently living in Vietnam, McCarthy and MacLeod will identify the sites that will receive the donations of medical equipment.

MacLeod said, “Living in the United States we have access to state of the art rehabilitation equipment. As a pediatric physical therapist I meet many families and people who use rehabilitation equipment on a daily basis as part of life. Much of this equipment is needed temporarily or outgrown and is often replaced. Due to limited resources, in Vietnam the needed equipment is not available, or not replaced when outgrown. Much of the used equipment that we take for granted and have sitting in garages, closets, or storage areas would be considered ‘state of the art’ to these children and families and could change their lives in positive ways.

“In an effort to give back, my husband and I (with the help of many good people here in Vermont and New England) are organizing resources so that we can ship a container of medical equipment to these special people. For many, access to this kind of equipment will mean they will have the resources to move from a bed or cot, out into their communities, or just to have a better life.”

McCarthy tells us that they anticipate the shipment of supplies will be sent in May or June and that the cost of the container and custom’s fees will range from $4,000 to $5,000. All donations will go directly to paying for the costs of shipping the supplies.

If you are interested in making a donation to help defray the shipping costs of this medical equipment, contact Marie or Tom at 802-862-0299 or by email at either or