Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
The rest of the world is finding out what the ski community has known all along: Skiing is more than a sport—it’s a lifestyle. The ski tribe is a tight one, thinking nothing of sacrificing profits and time to help those in need. The companies pivoting from their everyday manufacturing or donating their products to healthcare professions on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic come as no surprise to us. It’s just gives us more inspiration to support the brands and destinations that lift us all up when things get tough. We hope you do the same.
POWDR Corp.’s Play it Forward
Boulder, Colo.’s hometown mountain knows all about the importance of community. The 680-acre resort is a favorite destination for thousands of skiers and snowboarders from the Front Range between Boulder and Denver. In other words, Eldora’s success depends on the wellness—physical, mental, and financial—of its community. Which is how Play it Forward—an initiative from Eldora’s parent company, POWDR Corp.—came to life. The catalyst behind the program was the desire to support the various mountain communities in which the company’s resorts are located. “We are grateful to be a part of our communities, and we believe they are ecosystems that work only if we help and support each other,” says John Cumming, POWDR founder and chairman. “When it comes to our mission to ‘enhance people’s lives,’ we desire to do that for everyone, and being able to do so starts with a thriving mountain community ready to deliver the adventure lifestyle for future generations.” In the case of Eldora, POWDR partnered with the Community Foundation Boulder County, setting aside funds raised to give to local non-profits that serve the Boulder County community. And that’s just one example; POWDR Corp has set up a Play It Forward Fund at each of its resorts, gifting each with an initial $250,000. Read more about or get involved in the company’s efforts here.
Swedish brand Hestra only relocated to the Denver suburb of Arvada, Colo. last year, but the company didn’t hesitate to jump into the fray to help first responders in its new hometown when the COVID crisis hit in March. Hestra immediately donated 38,000 pairs of nitrile gloves to the local police and fire departments plus other providers on the front lines right outside their front door. Efforts like this don’t go unnoticed nor unappreciated. “We are so thankful to be able to support our local first responders in this small way during the COVID-19 pandemic” Hestra USA president Dino Dardano said. “These individuals are doing selfless work on the front lines and we wanted to support them in a meaningful way. Many of our staff live in this community and value the opportunity to give back to those who are helping us through this tough time.” Ream more about their efforts in the city’s newspaper, the Arvada Press.
Seirus Supports No Kid Hungry
Like so many outdoor companies that have seen their own sales affected by the pandemic, Seirus Innovation looked beyond their own situation and asked where they could pitch in. The California-based company that was one of the first to market with rechargeable heated gloves researched where its financial donations would be needed the most before settling on No Kid Hungry, a national campaign aimed at eradicating childhood hunger. The campaign was launched in 2010 by nonprofit Share Our Strength and serves healthy school breakfasts plus meals during the summer and when school is out. Since April 1, Seirus has been donating 10 percent of its online sales to keep America’s kids fed during the pandemic.
“Wanting to make the biggest difference for those most underserved, it was clear that the kids going without a school lunch program was one of the most affected demographics, says Seirus’ Director of Marketing, Danica Carey. “This is our way of giving back and passing forward the support we’ve received in our lives.”
Big Sky Save Small Business Relief Fund
In a destination ski town such as Big Sky, small businesses rely on tourism dollars—and likewise, tourism relies on the character and originality of small businesses to lure people to the area. Which is why Big Sky cannot afford to allow its many small businesses to fail. Enter the new Big Sky Save Small Business Relief Fund, a partnership between tourism arm Visit Big Sky and the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, which together have redirected $210K of their respective budgets to provide grants to area small businesses to the tune of $2,500 to $5,000 apiece. The grants can be used to pay any reasonable business expense. Says Big Sky Chamber and Visit Big Sky CEO Candace Carr Strauss: ““Travel has come to a screeching halt, but resiliency is part of our destination’s DNA. Big Sky has proven time and time again that it can rise up to meet what appear to be insurmountable challenges, and we will do it again.”
Taos Ski Valley
Small mountain communities have been hit by the COVID crisis, and town of Taos and surrounding communities have not been immune. After an early shutdown to the season, the ski resort, a certified B Corp, has stepped in to create the Taos Ski Valley Foundation and has already donated $25,000 to the nascent Fund for Taos, dedicated to helping people and businesses weather the pandemic’s financial fallout. What’s more, the ski resort’s patrol and operations crews have been handing out meals to children who are out of school, and the Food & Beverage department has teamed up with food pantry Shared Table to repurpose items intended for resort use back out into the community. Find out more here.
The Vermont-based textile company makes outdoor-inspired headwear and accessories that add flair and color to the slopes all winter long. With the slopes off-limits, Skida deftly pivoted its manufacturing from hats and headbands to fabric masks meant for community wear (not healthcare settings). The double-layer masks are made from fabric scraps and are comprised of 98 percent polyester and 2 percent nylon, and are hand-sewn in Vermont. Masks sell for $22 a piece at skida.com.
Boutique ski manufacturer Parlor Skis, based out of Boston, halted production on its custom planks and began making protective face shields for medical professions and first responders in early April. The shields are 9.5 x 13 inches and 7 millimeters thick, sport a foam headband and elastic fastener, are ideal for both medical and non-medical use. The shields are $3.25 each and are sold in quantities of 10, 25, 50, and 100 at Parlor’s website.
Watch: Parlor Face Shields
After shutting down their 37 North American resorts in late March, Vail Resorts saw that no food went to waste and donated 50,000 pounds of perishables across the mountain town communities that anchor its resorts. Donations included a delivery to the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District to ensure free to-go meals for kids under 18, despite their schools being closed; and in Whistler, where 20 pallets of food were delivered to food banks in the surrounding communities. You can read more about the donations here.
Gray Whale Gin
This California-born company may be relatively new to the spirits scene, but it’s clearly an old soul when it comes to community outreach and support. Founded in 2018 and inspired by the 12,000-mile migration of the Gray Whale up the California coast to the Arctic, the gin uses botanicals found along the whales’ route, donating at least 1 percent of sales to ocean conservation non-profit Oceana. To help the leagues of bartenders who are now finding themselves unemployed, Gray Whale has stirred up an innovative way to help: The company is hiring for “shifts” at its virtual bar, inviting bartenders to concoct an original Gray Whale cocktail. Send recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance at $350, and check Gray Whale’s ‘gram for winners over the next 15 weeks. Find out more about Gray Whale Gin here.
With the rising shortage of personal protective equipment plaguing hospitals across the country, Eddie Bauer decided become part of the solution in late March, teaming up with their supplier in China to produce N95 masks for frontline healthcare workers. The company has committed to producing 20,000 masks to be donated to hospitals in the Pacific Northwest, where the first cases of the novel coronavirus were detected. SKI’s sister publication, SNEWS, has more details.
DPS Skis, Petzl, Goal Zero, and Eastman
Seeing an immediate need in their community, four companies banded together to produce face shields for the Utah Department of Health. The face shields are being made at DPS Skis‘s Salt Lake City factory—where they’ve been doing prototype-to-production manufacturing for the last 15 years—using materials donated by Goal Zero, tools from manufacturing company Eastman, and headbands from Petzl headlamps retrofitted for the purpose. Read more about the effort here.
Big Sky Relief Fund
The three entities that came together to form the Big Sky Relief Fund saw needs in their own community and didn’t hesitate to fill them. Yellowstone Club Community Foundation, Spanish Peaks Community Foundation, and the Moonlight Community Foundation, with help from Big Sky’s resort tax fund, created the Big Sky Relief Fund and have already made an impact: Big Sky Medical Center got three new ventilators, with an additional eight heading to Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital. Big Sky Medical also received funds to build four new in-patient rooms, which doubled the small center’s capacity. The hospitals also have a combined $250,000 set aside to pay for added staffing, should the need arise. What’s more, families and individuals suffering financially can receive $1,500, and can re-apply every 45 days. Find more info and updates here.
Separately, the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation teamed up with Bozeman-based Simms Fishing to produce much-need washable hospital gowns for local healthcare workers. More info here.
Actionable information is just as important as physical giving in these confusing times. TakeMeFishing.org and the Recreational Boating + Fishing Foundation are doing their part by building out a toolkit of resources featuring the most up-to-date state-by-state guidelines around recreational fishing and boating, plus best practices for social distancing while fishing and boating, and some educational resources for kids to acquire new skills from home. This is great information for both current and aspiring fishermen and boaters, especially as warmer weather approaches and we’re seized by the desire to get out on the water. As the situation is rapidly changing, check back often for updated information. You can find the resources here.