In Europe, many of us have witnessed the devastating human impact of the Syrian refugee crisis firsthand. With neighboring countries no longer able to absorb displaced Syrians after years of fighting, hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled here seeking safety and better lives. The suffering we’ve seen has been heart-wrenching, and it’s not something I will soon forget.
Over the last year, I have heard over and over from our employees that this is a defining issue in our region and one that we — as a company with a long commitment to giving back — must address.
When our founder, Levi Strauss, immigrated to America from Bavaria and opened his dry-goods business in 1853, he established a bold, values-led approach to growing his company responsibly. Our dedication to originality, empathy, integrity and courage endures today and continues to guide the way we do business and show up in our communities.
That’s why we are taking action to assist refugees across Europe in the hopes of restoring some small measure of stability, dignity and hope to those whose lives have been completely uprooted.
First, we are awarding the International Rescue Committee (IRC) a grant of 50,000 GBP. This will support their work in providing critical services and aid to Syrians struggling to rebuild their lives in Turkey, which currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world. This grant will help the IRC provide protection and education for women and children, some of the most vulnerable people affected by the crisis.
Second, we will be donating our products — Levi’s® and Dockers® brand clothing — to organizations in Europe providing assistance to refugee communities. By giving high-quality, durable clothing (including jeans, pants, tops, scarves and hats) and outerwear to thousands of refugees this winter, we hope to provide some warmth to those in most need.
Lastly, we are encouraging our employees to take action. Any personal contributions to IRC will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the Levi Strauss Foundation, and we will also host a day of service in three European cities so employees can volunteer with local organizations supporting refugee communities.
We are humbled by the opportunity to continue LS&Co.’s legacy of giving back, and we think Levi — an immigrant with a strong belief in philanthropy — would be very proud of our employees for pushing us to take a stance on this humanitarian issue of our time.