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Just Do It: a Good Citizen's Response to the Nike Controversy

By Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

So Nike has has started a new advertising campaign with Colin Kaepernick, the ex-N.F.L. quarterback who inspired a player protest movement.

Kaepernich, sidelined for more than a year after failing to get an offer from any NFL team after his protest over the county's treatment of minorities during the pre-game national athem sparked a activist movement among other players, signed the multi-year contract with Nike that makes him a face of the 30th anniversary of the sports apparel company’s “Just Do It” campaign.

Nike is one of the NFL's biggest financial partners, and the ad features the face of the former quarterback emblazened with the words: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."

The move will obviously anger some and please others, but a disturbing reaction among those who oppose Nike's decision is emerging which is self-serving and narrow minded.

Anyone who is not pleased with the new face of Nike can boycott, express their feeings and encourage friends and family to join them in their own chosen form of protest. It's the American way, freedom of expression, just like an NFL player taking a knee in protest before a football game. Messages are delivered an no one directlly suffers from these actions. 

But there are already reports of people burning, shredding or otherwise destroying Nike shoes and apparel across the country. Meanwhile more than half a milion people are homeless and in this country. Millions more are in dire need of necessities, such as food and clothing. 

In Anderson, the number of requests for shelter among the homeless has more than doubled since 2016. The fastest growing demand is shelter for homeless families with children.

Our veterans homes are also full of those who served our country and are now living on thin shoestring budgets in their final years. Our community has, and conitues to do special drives to help these folks meet their basic needs for hygene, clothing and regular visits to show they are not forgotten.

So, if you oppose Nike's new campaign and wish to dispose of your branded shoes or clothing, consider donating it or selling it and donation the funds to your neighbors in need.

This could be a wonderful national campaign, and it could start right here in Anderson.

Below are local groups who see to the needs of our neighbors in need.

To donate clothing, consider one of the following:

The Haven of Rest, (864) 226-6193. The Haven has an almost endless need for the men and women at their shelters and the men at the farm. You can drop the shoes/clothes off at one of their donation bins or at the headquarters downtown. Call them if you have questions.

The Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home, 864-261-6734. These veterans would love to have your Nike apparel and shoes, and the need there is growing a well.

If you choose to sell your stuff, consider giving the money to one of these groups which serves the less fortunate in our community (see full information at their websites linked below):

AIM, which provides food, job training, education, financial counseling and more while offering "A hand up, not a handout."

The Salvation Army of Anderson, which provides shelter for the homeless, job training, Boys & Girls Club activities (which includes tutoring and a variety of other services), and more. 

Meals on Wheels of Anderson, which provides daily hot meals to more than 400 senior citizens across the county. 

Clean Start Anderson, which operates witn no paid staff and provides showers, laundry facilities and job counseling to those who live on the streets or who have no place to bathe or wash their clothes.

The Cancer Association of Anderson, which provides finanacial and emotional support to our neighbors who are facing cancer. 

There are many other groups and organizations doing good things in Anderson County, but these are perhaps reaching the most people. 

The subject of this controversy, no matter what you think of his politics, has given more than $1 million to charity. Perhaps if his detractors would outgive him, this could be a real opportunity for a flashy headline to turn into a movement to connect everyone with a place they can give back to the community.

So, if you're still pondering where you come done on this issue, or if you already have strong opinions, the best way to express yourself is by asking: "What am I doing to make life better for my friends and neighbors to make Anderson County a better place?"

Many are already deeply involved, but others are not.

So, in light of this news story, and with the holidays not far away, it's time, to paraphrase Nike, "Just Do Something" to make Anderson a better place.

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