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How Outdoor Gear Companies Helped Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

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Volunteers in Rockaway, Queens, New York, after Hurricane Sandy; Photograph by Joshua Brown

There’s something to be said for the outdoor industry: We have a lot of heart. Generally speaking, people are in this business because they love the outdoors and are passionate about creating products to enhance their adventures. And in my experience, it seems passionate people are caring people.

So when Hurricane Sandy delivered a powerful beating to the East Coast at the end of October 2012, we couldn’t just sit idle and say, “Too bad for you. Hope things work out.” No way. All of a sudden, thousands of people had no homes and millions were without power. And another storm was on its way, bringing snow.

The outdoor industry makes its business protecting people from the elements. So this was a perfect opportunity to help people in need. After all, Superstorm Sandy was a monster by all counts—the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, spanning 1,100 miles. It caused more than $60 billion in damage, making it one of the costliest hurricanes to ever slam in from the Atlantic, second only to Katrina.

Outdoor companies sprang into action, coming forward with generous donations to help East Coasters stay warm and dry and survive through dark nights without lights. The response was inspirational—a testament to the passion of the people in our industry. As one company put it, it wasn’t a question of whether or not to help, but what to do.

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Photo by Tyler Breuer, a surfer and founder of SMASH: NYC, who organized many volunteer trips to the Rockways, New York

Outdoor Industry Association asked companies to share their stories of how they assisted Hurricane Sandy victims. Here’s what we heard.

  • Adidas donated $600,000 worth of jackets to keep Staten Islanders warm.
  • Brooklyn Boulders, a New York City rock climbing gym, opened its doors to house a military disaster relief response center.
  • Goal Zero organized a “You Buy One, We Give One” campaign to provide matching donations for all purchases during a two-week period. In total, the company donated nearly $600,000 worth of solar panels, chargers, fridges and lights.
  • Icebreaker stepped up with a donation of 500 pairs of merino wool underwear after the president of Staten Island said they had received tons of clothing but were short on skivvies.
  • Longworth Industries — which owns XGO, Polarmax and AYG 365 Baselayers — gave $20,000 worth of baselayer crews, zipmocks and pants.
  • NEMO sent 50 sleeping bags to a Brooklyn church.
  • New Balance Foundation donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross to fund Hurricane Sandy relief as well as future efforts.
  • Osprey Packs gave $4,300 worth of technical backpacks to the Humanitarian International Services Group.
  • Primaloft provided hundreds of ultra-warm, insulated winter jackets, sleeping bags, blankets, gloves, hats, scarves, socks and pillows for people in the Tri-State Area.
  • Ruffwear donated its demo sale proceeds to support Best Friends Animal Society’s hurricane relief efforts, and also contributed fleece dog coats for shelter animals in the Northeast. Awww!
  • Sherpa Adventure Gear contributed more than 240 hats and fleece pullovers to AmeriCares’ relief efforts.
  • Terramar Sports partnered with Goodwill to donate more than $500,000 worth of base layers and long thermal underwear.
  • Woolrich delivered $50,000 worth of jackets, shirts and blankets to a badly damaged Queens, N.Y., neighborhood.

It’s times like these—among a million others—that I’m proud to be part of this industry. If you have a chance, take a moment to thank these companies for their outpouring of support.

Avery Stonich is communications manager for Outdoor Industry Association. Follow us on twitter: @OIA and @averystonich