White Rock area resident Samuel Bistrian was visiting Ukraine when he noticed little children sloshing through dirt and snow in either sandals, worn shoes or no shoes at all (he had a pair of hand-me-down boots when he was a child living there, he has told The Advocate).

That’s why, when Bistrian founded ROMA Boots, he vowed to merge fashion with philanthropy that would help children in Romania and Eastern Europe, where he was born.

Roma hunter-style rain boots are warm, sturdy, protective and dang stylish. And for each pair sold, through the Roma foundation, Bistrian was giving a pair to a child living in poverty.

When we first met him, he told us that the footwear is just the first step to helping these children break out of the poverty cycle. When the foundation did a boot drop, it provided other forms of humanitarian aid as well.

Now, as Ukrainians flee their country, the need for aid is unimaginable. Taking a break from an exceedingly busy time, Bistrian tells us that the one -for-one model has continued over the course of the company’s 12 years. He and his team shipped some boots to Ukraine last week and are hoping to donate 100,000 boots this year.

“Growing up in Romania gives me a unique perspective on what is happening in Ukraine and Eastern Europe,” Bistrian says. “It pains me to see the chaos, death and destruction, so whatever ROMA can do to help those in need, especially children, is of utmost importance. For me, this is very personal and upsetting. From day one, the mission of ROMA has been to give back to those in need. The success of our company means our foundation is assisting others worldwide. I grew up extremely poor and realized the enormous impact adequate footwear has in poverty-stricken countries. This was the genesis for ROMA Boots.”

To date, Roma has donated some $7 million worth of boots. The brand also donates daily to charities through the foundation and through its “Product With Purpose” initiative.

Each year, the brand releases a limited edition boot following their 1:1 model.

In honor of their 12th Anniversary this April, ROMA Boots will unveil their DAY OF HOPE boot by artist Laurence Gartel launching this fall and coinciding with the upcoming release of Bistrian’s book Give Poverty the Boot.

ROMA has its flagship boutique at The Shops at Park Lane, 8060 Park Lane, 126.