Kimball gives to Soles4Souls

JASPER, IN -- Around the world, over 1.5 billion people have no shoes. Also around the world, employees of U.S.-based Kimball International have been collecting gently worn shoes, along with cash, to donate to Soles4Souls, the international shoe charity that provides these shoes to those in need in over 127 countries around the globe.

Within only 66 days, Kimball employees from 22 separate locations across three continents coordinated their collections to provide nearly 10,000 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls.

Based in Nashville, Tennessee (USA), Soles4Souls accepts all types of shoes: athletic, running, dress, sandals, pumps, heels, work boots, cleats, dance, or flip flops, just as long as they are "gently worn" or new. The shoes are provided to men, women and children in many different situations of need domestically and globally. Since its inception in 2004, following the Asian tsunami, Soles4Souls has distributed nearly 14 million pairs of shoes, or one pair every 7 seconds, to people in 127 countries.

Kimball, a diversified manufacturer and marketer with multiple brand units, chose to coordinate a company-wide partnership for a shoe drive as part of the company's internal campaign to reinforce its company culture and promote corporate social responsibility (CSR). Kimball's Corporate Guiding Principles call for its businesses to promote good works to benefit the communities in which it does business. Dean Vonderheide, Vice President, Organizational Effectiveness, of Kimball International explained, "Although our approach to CSR activities has been de-centralized to the brand unit level or even the plant location, this is a cause that we can rally around globally and involve all our operations."

The idea for a shoe collection drive came about when a Kimball employee who is an active runner noticed shoe drives for Soles4Souls being conducted at competitive running events. He brought the concept to Kimball's Corporate Social Responsibility Team for consideration. Following on the successful test of a shoe collection drive (getting 390 pairs of shoes) at one Kimball location, the team decided to invite all of Kimball's varied business units to hold their own events as well. Said Vonderheide, "We are all familiar with the old saying that in order to understand someone else, you should take a moment to 'walk in their shoes.' Well, what if that person literally doesn't have any shoes? We felt this was a great cause with universal appeal and significance."

In total, Kimball's global operations collected 3,132 pairs of shoes and over $6,010 dollars in cash donations, which enables Soles4Souls to use their buying power to equate each dollar with a new pair of shoes.

Kimball employees from the headquarters administrative office staff to the research and development department, from Idaho to Florida, from Indiana to Virginia, and from Asia to Europe stepped up to get involved. With a brand identity built around providing comfort, employees of Kimball Hospitality, the nation's leading provider of guestroom furnishings, collected nearly 100 pairs of shoes for the cause.

The opportunity to participate in this program was extended to the entire sales force of Kimball Office, prior to their national sales meeting in Hollywood. "We were inspired by the people who made a little extra room in their suitcases to bring more than 100 pairs of shoes to donate, and by those who opened their wallets to help those less fortunate," said Paula Schmidt, Director of Market Communications. Kimball Office team members also donated over $4,000 to the collection. To further the cause, Kimball Office continued the Soles4Souls efforts at a recent event in their New York showroom, where over 300 additional pairs of shoes were collected. Kimball Office manufacturing and administrative employees collected nearly 700 pairs of shoes.

Sister company National Office Furniture, also participated in the shoe collection drive, involving employees from all five of their production and office locations as well as their sales force. In total, National employees collected 1,186 pairs of shoes, including almost 500 pairs collected at a sales event hosted at National's Dallas Showroom. According to Angie Kleinhelter, Director of Human Resources of National Office Furniture, "At National, we plan actions around social responsibility, but we eagerly joined this corporate-wide program and were proud to partner with our other company units."

Keith Woodley, Chief Development Officer, for Soles4Souls, expressed appreciation, saying "This is fantastic! Kimball has done an amazing job. We even received donations from Kimball divisions in Thailand and China!"

Awareness of and sensitivity to cultural differences are important factors to consider when involving businesses around the globe, explained Julie Dutchess, Director of Global Human Resources, Kimball Electronics Group. "During our initial discussions with our Asia and Europe locations, the concept of sharing used shoes was presented as not socially acceptable. However, we all agreed the choice of donating money to purchase new shoes versus used shoes was a viable solution for those locations," said Dutchess. In lieu of actual shoes, employees of Kimball Electronic's non-U.S. operations in Poland, Mexico, Thailand and China collected cash donations totaling $1,450, while their U.S. colleagues gathered over 600 pairs of shoes.

To complete the project, Kimball Logistics Services, the Company's truck fleet operation, provided transport of several pallets of shoes to Soles4Souls' distribution warehouse in Alabama.

About Soles4Souls(R), Clothes4Souls(R), and Hope4Souls(TM) :

Soles4Souls collects new shoes to give relief to the victims of abject suffering and collects used shoes to support micro-enterprise efforts to eradicate poverty. Soles4Souls' other two divisions, Clothes4Souls and Hope4Souls, provide the same relief and support through clothing and other necessities. Donating parties are eligible for tax advantages. Visit www.giveshoes.org, www.clothes4souls.org, or www.hope4souls.org for more information.

About Kimball International:

Recognized with a reputation for excellence, Kimball International is committed to a high performance culture that values personal and organizational commitment to quality, reliability, value, speed, and ethical behavior. Kimball employees know they are part of a corporate culture that builds success for Customers while enabling employees to share in the Company's success through personal, professional and financial growth.

Kimball International, Inc. (NASDAQ: KBALB) provides a variety of products from its two business segments: the Electronic Manufacturing Services segment and the Furniture segment. The Electronic Manufacturing Services segment provides engineering and manufacturing services which utilize common production and support capabilities to a variety of industries globally. The Furniture segment provides furniture for the office and hospitality industries, sold under the Company's family of brand names.

SOURCE: Kimball International

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