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Toyota Kicks Off Chicago Auto Show by Donating Winter Boots and Socks to Chicagoland Families

While preparing to showcase an array of new vehicles at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota first showcased its continued commitment to support local Chicago families facing homelessness by donating winter boots and socks through its “Walk In My Boots” community outreach project.  To help shield families from the cold, on Saturday, February 4, 2023, more than 150 family members residing in The Salvation Army Evangeline Booth Lodge, a family homeless shelter in Chicago, received Bogs winter boots guaranteed to weather harsh conditions and Smartwool hiking socks that keep feet warm and dry.

In addition, Toyota donated $15,000 to The Salvation Army North and Central Illinois Division enabling them to continue to provide shelter for families in times of crisis.  “The Salvation Army is thrilled to partner with Toyota for the ‘Walk In My Boots’ community outreach project,” said Captain TJ Simmons, divisional youth and candidate secretary, The Salvation Army North and Central Illinois Division.  “This partnership will help so many Chicagoans who are struggling.”

Smiles were on the faces of many residents as the boots and socks were received just in time as wind chills as low as 20 below zero hit the Chicago area the day before.  While many programs offer winter coat, hat and glove giveaways, a person’s feet are often left exposed to harsh elements.  In a short period of time, people can be at risk for severe hypothermia and consequences can be fatal.  One family member said, she has four children and that she was grateful to Toyota because now they have new boots and socks to keep their feet warm when going from place to place.

“Many people know Toyota as a car company, but we're so much more than that,” said Alva Adams Mason, executive group manager, Multicultural Business Alliance and Strategy, and Multicultural Dealer Relations, Toyota Motor North America.  “We're passionate about serving communities by giving our time, knowledge and resources to support local organizations.  The pandemic and economic downturn has been extremely hard on families in need, and we hope that our donation of winter boots and socks will help to transform their lives…one step at a time.”

Through this program, in Chicago alone, Toyota has donated more than 1,700 pairs of winter boots and socks to help families in need while contributing over $135,000 to The Salvation Army North and Central Illinois Division.  This is Toyota’s ninth year presenting the “Walk In My Boots” program in Chicago.  It has also been held in Detroit, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Minneapolis, and Harrisburg, PA.

Antony Francis, vehicle marketing manager, Toyota Chicago Region; and Guy Drake, new vehicle sales director, Advantage Toyota of River Oaks dealership, participated in the event by helping the families try on new boots. 

The Salvation Army Evangeline Booth Lodge is a haven for women and men with children, along with married couples with children suddenly homeless because of eviction, disasters such as a fire or flood, loss of utilities, domestic violence, being stranded while traveling or other crises. As an interim housing program, the Booth Lodge provides shelter for as many as 60 families each night. The average stay is 63 days, but some stay longer, depending on the time needed to locate permanent living arrangements.


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