By  on March 16, 2011

Kevin Burke, president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), has taken over as chairman of Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.). And his first order of business is to mobilize the apparel and footwear community to provide product and donations to the victims of last week’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“This is a horrible environmental tragedy,” he said. “We’re using all the resources and connections we have to get as much product to the people in Japan as possible.” The staff of K.I.D.S. worked all weekend, he said, and is preparing its first shipment to local charities in Japan to distribute to victims. “That’s our mission — that’s what we should be doing.”

Burke, who previously served on the board of the charity, said he was chosen as chairman for his longtime connections in the apparel and footwear industry. He has 30 years of experience in Washington government relations and oversees a national trade association whose combined industries account for more than $370 billion in annual retail sales.

Last year, K.I.D.S. donated $100 million in product to those in need, and Burke said the goal for 2011 is to increase that number to $110 million. “But with what happened in Japan, the numbers will inevitably go up,” he said.

Burke will serve as chairman for two years.

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