Polaris Apparel, based in Bolsover on the edge of the Peak District in the east Midlands of England, is launching an appeal to raise funds for the May 12 earthquake in China. The company sponsors Hans Godspeed Ngo, a Chinese adventure rider based in Chengdu, and he has asked Polaris for assistance.
"As our business is almost entirely reliant on Chinese manufacturing we feel strongly that we should do our bit in this time of need," said Roger Dillon, managing director for Polaris Apparel. "With that, Polaris is committing 30 percent of its retail sales and 10 percent of its trade sales from now until the end of June to the appeal."
The earthquake measured 7.9 on the Richter Scale in Sichuan province, China and the rest of the world are still coming to terms with the magnitude of this tragedy. An estimated 71,000 have been killed, buried or remain unaccounted for; five million are now homeless and in need of support; 220,000 have been injured, many of them children, and an estimated 5,000 children have been orphaned.
The devastation zone measures approximately 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 square miles) -- an area roughly three quarters the size of England.
“In the West we have, over the last decade, had unprecedented growth and much of this has been fuelled by China’s ability to manufacture cost effectively,” Polaris marketing manager Neill Keen added. “We have all enjoyed cheap clothing, electrical goods, etc. and this in turn has helped our economy. I think as the bicycle industry is quite a close knit community, from the manufacturer through to the consumer, and the best thing we can do is to continue to take an interest in what is going on and communicate our support. Doing this will galvanize others to create new initiatives or support existing ones. After 9/11 and other recent disasters the one thing that stood out for those affected was the overwhelming support from around the globe in whatever form, showed that the rest of the world cared, and I think that is particularly important to China and even Burma.
“Here at Polaris we have been working in China for nearly eight years,” Keen said. “Our success is inextricably linked to China, and I guess, indirectly, so is yours. We feel compelled to help and we would like to invite you to join us. We have all seen the devastation caused by the earthquake in China. Every night on the news the story gets worse. I am sure it is hard to know what the final toll will be but the appeal we are sending out is not for the dead but those that are still alive, they are the ones that need your help and prayers."
According to Ngo, the immediate requests of the Chinese government are for medical supplies, tents and heavy lifting equipment.
“This may appear ironic when China is probably the largest manufacturers of tents but those tents are not made for themselves they are sent to Europe and America and at the height of the selling season here, there will be few left in China,” Keen said.
“We appeal to the business community in the UK to help in supporting the effort to collect donated and purchased tents and medicines for China's earthquake zones. The Chinese Embassy and Consulate General will help in making arrangements at the China end to ensure a speedy delivery to the Earthquake area.”
The Polaris plan is to gather donations, with 75 percent going for immediate use to the fund set up by The Chinese Embassy in London. The other 25 percent will be given to a Children’s Charity/aid organisation in the area of Beichuan. According to Keen, Polaris is in the process of finding a suitable charity, details of which will be posted on the Polaris website.
“We are working with Ngo, and he and some friends are helping with the relief effort by using their mountain bikes to get to areas where the roads have collapsed,” Keen added. “Information from him at the moment is sporadic, however he has been able to send in a couple of reports which put a very personal prospective on the current situation.”
If you would like to join Polaris in making a donation via its appeal, the firm will send a receipt and a copy of the receipt from the Charities/funds it donates the money to.
For more information, visit http://www.polaris-apparel.co.uk/default.aspx.