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Toyota’s Alva Mason is making a difference in our community, 1 boot at a time

Toyota’s Alva Mason (kneeling with black hat) is pictured with Al Smith Jr., Toyota’s chief social innovation officer (kneeling front row), Ronnie McNeir of the Four Tops (standing, blue shirt) and Greg Jackson, of Prestige Automotive Group (sitting), all sponsors of the program  (Photo credit: Porsha Monique for Steed Media)

The 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), better known as the Detroit auto show, has come and gone. Every year, thousands of patrons from all over the world flock to Detroit to discover the new model cars, concept vehicles and the exciting surprises auto manufacturers have in store for them.

There are always plenty of events, parties, award receptions, black tie galas and the like that take place during NAIAS, and many of them are very worthy events. One such program that kicks off auto-show week is the Walk In My Boots program sponsored by Toyota. The program, now in its seventh year, is a community outreach program that is designed to help area low-income and homeless families by providing them with new insulated winter boots and socks. This year alone, the program serviced over 150 women and children, including women from the Salvation Army Detroit Harbor Light substance abuse treatment program. The program is also run in other cities such as Chicago and the Washington, D.C., metro area.

During this year’s event, rolling out obtained the opportunity to speak with the program’s founder, Alva Mason, Toyota’s director of multicultural business alliance and strategy. During our discussion, we gained some insight on the overall community impact of the program and also discussed her current role with the program. Check out the interview below to see what she had to say.

This is Toyota’s seventh year of donating winter boots and socks for the Walk in My Boots program, it seems to get bigger every year. How does it feel going into year seven knowing that you will be helping more women and children than ever?

We’re here at the Detroit auto show to [unveil] new vehicles, but what’s really important to Toyota is being a vehicle of change in our communities in which we live and which we work. Personally, it is a great feeling and I am so grateful to be able to work for a company like Toyota that gives me the opportunity to be able to give back to the community. It is such a great feeling, I was really hyped and excited about being able to come to Detroit and being able to give some more boots to women and children. I am grateful to have the opportunity.

Today in Detroit alone, Toyota has donated over 1,200 boots and socks. That’s a huge impact in the community. Why is it important for Toyota to continue this type of work in the community?

We must. The community is what we are all about. And without the community, there is no Toyota. We have to, that’s part of the Toyota culture, to give. This is just what we do.

Toyota has donated 15K today and to date has donated over $100K to the program. You’ve also been partnering with The Salvation Army for quite some time now, what is the donation intended for?

The Salvation Army helps thousands of people in need and so the donation is intended to help the Salvation Army to continue their mission of helping people. So, it is a contribution for them to continue to help those communities that are in need.

Tell us about your role in the program.

I am the director of the multicultural business alliance and strategy program. My focus is on the multicultural community on a national level. So, this project still falls under me and we are looking for more ways to expand, to impact the community and impact more nonprofits.