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As the conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate, the U.S. winter sports industry is rallying to provide supplies and financial support to Ukrainian refugees.
Earlier this month, Snowsports Industries America (SIA) called on winter outdoor suppliers and retailers to donate gear including gloves, boots, and blankets.
“The devastation in Ukraine is beyond imagination and the toll that it has taken on the people of Ukraine is heartbreaking,” says SIA President Nick Sargent. “We can’t sit on the sidelines. We have to help. Many winter outdoor businesses manufacture the cold-weather gear that can be a tremendous help to refugees who have lost everything, so we are facilitating ways that our industry can step up, either by donating gear or providing financial aid.”
SIA’s call to action is centered around a campaign by the Polish Outdoor Group (POG) to coordinate delivery of gear donations. According to POG, the first delivery of retailer donations arrived in Ukraine on March 10, and featured products from Swedish outdoor brand Silva and British clothing manufacturer Rab.
Other major retailers including KEEN, Buff, and LifeStraw have also offered support, the group said.
A call to action
As the number of refugees and displaced people continues to swell, this month surpassing 3.1 million according to the United Nations, the need for resources and financial support is on the rise, POG said.
Gear such as sleeping bags, mats, thermal blankets, flashlights, headlamps, thermal underwear, and winter clothing can make an immense difference for refugees’ safety, the organization stated.
The European Outdoor Group last week called on its members, which include Arcteryx, Berghaus, and Marmot, to lend support.
“This is an urgent humanitarian crisis and outdoor companies can help civilians on the ground who are in need,” the group says. “As an outdoor industry association, we may not have the ability to influence military actions, but we can mobilize our members and the wider sector to aid the innocent civilians who are being affected by those actions.”
The outdoor industry is dedicated to designing and manufacturing products to help people withstand the harshest conditions, and is uniquely positioned to provide assistance, EOG says: “This is not a marketing opportunity, it’s a call to action.”
How retailers can lend support
SIA is mobilizing the winter sports industry to contribute to the coordinated European effort. Because international shipping delays are likely, U.S.-based companies without a European footprint should prioritize financial donations to Global Giving’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund or UN Crisis Relief, the trade association said.
Retailers with European headquarters, or that have retail partners or distributors in Europe, should contact SIA directly with the type and amount of gear they’re able to donate, and will be provided with a shipping address.
The European Outdoor Group and the Polish Outdoor Group did not immediately respond to Outside Business Journal’s request for comment.