Throwback Thursday: Giving Back Through the Years

Levi Strauss & Co.
May 7, 2015

Today marks a much anticipated day for LS&Co. employees: it’s Community Day. We get to throw on a snazzy red t-shirt and choose a volunteer project that inspires us. This year’s projects include everything from teaching kids about water conservation to building bikes, beautifying parks, and washing the four-legged friends of people in need (a perennial favorite).

Though it’s been 15 years since our inaugural day of community service, giving back at Levi Strauss & Co. goes all the way back to our founder Levi Strauss. In 1854, he donated $5 to a San Francisco orphanage, only one year after arriving in the city to open his dry goods business. This amount is equivalent to approximately $125 U.S. in today’s dollars.

As a company, we’ve been honored to give back in a variety of ways through the years. Here are a few of our favorite giving milestones leading up to Community Day in 2000:

  • 1871 — Levi Strauss & Co. gives $100 to the Chicago Relief Fund to help rebuild after the fire of 1871.
  • 1897 — Levi Strauss donates funds for 28 scholarships at the University of California, Berkeley. These scholarships are still in place today. He also gives money to the California School for the Deaf and supports other local charities.
  • 1906 — The San Francisco earthquake and fires destroy LS&Co.’s showroom, other company buildings and many local businesses. The company extends credit to its wholesale customers to help them get back on their feet and back in business.
  • 1913 — LS&Co. builds a playground in front of the 250 Valencia Street factory for the enjoyment of neighborhood children.
  • 1952 — The Levi Strauss Foundation is formed to coordinate the company’s charitable giving.
  • 1970s — The first Community Involvement Teams are formed.
  • 1981 — The Red Tab Foundation is formed by a company employee, Jerry O’Shea, with a mission to help provide a financial safety net for LS&Co. employees and retirees in need.
  • 2000 — LS&Co. inaugurated Community Day in our San Francisco headquarters.

On the 15th anniversary of Community Day, we asked a few employees to reflect upon their volunteer experience here and share with us what having a day of service means to them: