As a producer of youth clothing Volcom stands out for its unique style and attitude. “Youth against establishment” they say, and their gear for snowboarders, surfing, and skateboarders has coolness to spare, but making clothes isn’t the only cool thing they do. Volcom is launching their Give Jeans a Chance Program again in August, collecting used jeans across the country and forwarding these to the homeless. That’s cool. Or “siiiick”, maybe I should say.
People in need near Skid Row wait in the rain to get their pair of jeans. Photo by Floris Gierman
Volcom will collect jeans at 300 locations everywhere (find one near you by clicking here), and make sure the jeans get into the hands of people who really need them at homeless shelters.
The number of homeless has grown in the Great Recession, but donations to charities helping the homeless have fallen, making things even harder. For people who have little, a pair of jeans can make a big difference in their lives. Heading up the program, Floris Gierman, Volcom’s Director of Retail Marketing says, “Putting on clean, dry jeans in the morning is something that most of us take for granted. It’s easy to forget the tremendous number of homeless people living in the U.S. who cannot enjoy the same simple privilege.”
The program is a collaboration of Volcom with the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH). Neil Donovan, Executive Director of the NCH said about last year’s campaign, “Volcom’s Give Jeans a Chance (GJAC) is inspiring thousands to make a single donation and it’s having a huge impact in the lives of so many homeless people.”
In 2009 the program collected over 5000 pairs, and this year they are shooting for 10,000 pairs. In addition to collecting jeans, they are also selling Give Jeans a Chance t-shirts and forwarding part of the proceeds to the NCH as another way to help.
Coastal Edge, one of the participating stores in 2009, collected 253 pairs of jeans in their stores. All jeans were donated to local homeless shelters in Virginia Beach. Photo by Coastal Edge
Programs like this to give back to people and planet are an important part of sustainability, showing where a company’s heart is really at. Going green is not just about changing light bulbs and saving polar bears, but helping all of the people we share the planet with, remembering that we’re all in this together and that by reaching out to others we can really make a difference in the world. When you see the video of the program, it’s easy to see that Volcom and they people they’re working with on the campaign are truly walking the CSR walk.
Volcom has other programs helping people and planet too, like their V.Co-Logical line of eco-friendly clothes made with organic cotton, vegetable dyes, organic stains, hemp and other low impact production methods. They have teamed up with 1% for the Planet to donate 1% of sales of the series to environmental causes, and with their Give Back programs they are helping out with cleaning beaches and other activities. Like the green outdoor clothing pioneer Patagonia, people and businesses connected to the outdoors have a strong affinity for helping to preserve the environment that inspired them in the first place.
It also doesn’t hurt that you can get some cool stuff by donating your jeans. If you donate a pair of jeans at one of stores receiving them, you’ll get either a Give Jeans a Chance hat, sticker or button, and you’ll be entered to win a year’s supply of Volcom Brand Jeans (VBJ), a $1,000 Volcom prize pack or one of the 50 VBJ runner up prize packages.
“Last year’s drive proved to be rewarding to all involved,” said Derek Sabori, Volcom’s Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. “You see the photos and people are just stoked … Stoked to give back.”
So go through your closet, get out those old pairs stuffed in the back, the ones you haven’t worn in years, check the Volcom Web site to find a participating store near you, and run down there with your jeans in August and September while the program is running. I’ve already got a few pairs set aside, and I’m looking forward to helping out. I hope you can too.
More than a thousand pairs of jeans got collected in Florida. All jeans were separated in size and donated to 5 different family homeless shelters. Photo by Patrick Ruddy
A pallet with boxes full of jeans is unloaded at the Midnight Mission Homeless Shelter on Skidrow in Los Angeles. Photo by Floris Gierman
Bob Hurt, 54 years old, has been homeless off and on for 20 years: “One of the hardest parts of living on the streets is the wind and the rain. This pair of jeans comes in handy and it will keep me warm. It [doesn’t have] holes in it, they are great. Thanks man, I really appreciate it.” Photo by Chris Torres