By Sherry Perley, UNIQLO
As a UNIQLO employee, I have been living and working here in the New York area. In all the communities around the world we live and work in, we are guided by the principal: changing the world through clothing. This principal is why we knew as a company, whose hundreds of employees and thousands of customers live and work here at our four NY/NJ stores, we had to help our neighbors and colleagues who were tragically affected by Hurricane Sandy.
In December, we launched the 10-week long UNIQLO United in Warmth program to donate and personally distribute 100,000 HEATTECH clothing items and 10,000 Ultra Light Down coats to those in the areas most affected by Hurricane Sandy. These are some of UNIQLO’s most technically advanced, warmest pieces of clothing, and our hope is that as the temperature drops to chilling levels, this clothing can provide some measure of comfort to families still in need this winter.
To further the effectiveness of the program, we are working with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, the New York City Housing Authority, the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, the State of New Jersey and the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund to select the locations most in need, such as The Rockaways.
As a Japanese company we are no stranger to devastation that can be caused by a natural disaster. In response to the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, we launched the UNIQLO Recovery Assistance Project which also donated aid and clothing throughout the hardest hit regions.
Our past experience proved that is equally important to donate clothing, as well as our time and elbow grease to the effort, giving our employees the opportunity to volunteer. Each weekend since December 8th, we have coordinated dozens of volunteers, including both UNIQLO employees and customers who signed up on our website, to deliver the nearly $2.3 million worth of warm clothing.
These past nine weeks, I have been helping plan the events in affected communities like Far Rockaway and Rockaway Beach. It has been a pleasure working with many wonderful organizers – such as Community Church of the Nazarene, Our Lady Help of Christians Church, Saint Margaret Mary Church, Sea Bright Rising, Hope For Highlands, Rockaway Recovery 94th Street Donations and Canarsie Recovery Center and volunteers at each location. Their hope and courage show us that even months later, it is as important as ever that we don’t forget that much help is still needed.
This past weekend we worked with Camp Bulldog, the grass roots disaster relief organization, at to two different locations in Lindenhurst, Long Island – Harding Avenue Elementary School and Lindenhurst Knights of Columbus. Hundreds came to the sites to pick up these much needed items. The remainder of the donated items will be handed out February 16th at the Jersey Shore in Brick, NJ. We welcome our customers and fellow New Yorkers to join us so we can be United in Warmth and lend a hand to our communities that need it most. Anyone who is interested in volunteering can visit www.uniqlo.com for more information; next weekend is the last chance to volunteer.