As sportswear manufacturers gear up for a summer of surf and sand, the riots in Los Angeles last week may have seemed a world away.
But at least half a dozen companies in Orange County are donating T-shirts, pants and accessories to people who lost their homes or jobs in the turmoil.
Rob Mitchell, president of Mossimo Inc. in Irvine, sent letters this week to more than a dozen sportswear manufacturers in Orange County and elsewhere to elicit donations of clothing, canned and dry goods, and cash to buy necessities such as diapers and blankets.
Mossimo itself plans to donate $5,000 worth of clothing and $500 in cash, Mitchell said. So far, Trunks, Gotcha Sportswear, Redsand, Bleick Sportswear, Lunada Bay and Spot Sport have pledged support, and more donations are expected.
"Orange County really does seem to be a sheltered area," Mitchell said.
"We aren't exposed to the realities of urban life. We weren't even touched. . . . This is the least we can do."
Mitchell, who attended USC, said the riots hit home for him when he saw businesses that he frequented as a student being looted and torched.
In his letter, Mitchell wrote that, for most sportswear manufacturers in Orange County, "our lives continued normally, at times even selfishly, as the residents of Los Angeles tried to survive a living hell."
"This is a perfect way for us to get involved," Mitchell said. "We can get together and make a dent in the situation."