Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Soles4Souls Featured in the FINANCIAL TIMES

Philanthropy steps in where the state failed
By Lauren Foster in New York
Published: April 23 2007

A few weeks ago, a container with about 25,000 pairs of donated shoes left the Soles4Souls warehouse in Alabama, bound for Togo in west Africa. Elsewhere, the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes saved a disabled Iraqi veteran from losing his home, while the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York received a $12.5m philanthropic gift to advance the field of personalised medicine.

The common thread between shoes, war veterans and genetics? Philanthropy.

“The role of philanthropy in our culture is exploding right now because people are so disenfranchised with the political system that they are viewing philanthropic donations as another way to vote on issues that are important for them,” says Sean Stannard-Stockton, principal and director of tactical philanthropy at Ensemble Capital Management, an investment advisory.

Increasingly, public charities and private foundations are stepping in with social, cultural and educational services that are not provided by states or governments, or that have been scaled down.

Melissa Berman, president and chief executive of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a non-profit consulting firm, says there is “a lot of impatience” in how the public sector is fulfilling its functions.

“We have, by and large in American society, lost our conviction that government is the place where solutions to social problems occur,” she says. “From the time of the Reagan revolution forward, we have gravitated to the view it is the private sector that is going to create innovative and effective solutions. The only viable solution we now see is private enterprise and private philanthropic action so we look to it to solve problems.”

Here are three organisations that provide solutions, from basic needs, such as financial and emotional support and shoes, to pioneering advances in medicine.

Coalition to salute America’s heroes
The CSAH’s mission is to help severely wounded and disabled veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq rebuild their lives. It works with service members with disabilities rated at 30 per cent or higher.

“There are so many guys coming back, the government can’t catch every single one of them. So [for] the ones who fall between the cracks, we are here to be the pillow and make that fall not as hard as it usually would be and catch them before they hit rock bottom,” says J.R. Martinez, who was wounded in Iraq in 2003 when the vehicle he was driving hit a landmine, leaving him with burns over 40 per cent of his body and severe inhalation damage. He is a spokesman for the non-profit group.

CSAH (www.saluteheroes.org) has given out more than $4m in aid – raised from individuals and corporations – since it was founded in 2004. Services include building handicapped-accessible homes and adapting existing homes for veterans who use wheelchairs, providing mentors to help veterans plan their road to recovery, and offering emergency financial relief as a stop-gap for veterans struggling to pay bills.

“When you come back wounded, that is when the real battle begins because the war can be a two-, three-, four-, five-year war and that’s it,” says Mr Martinez. “But when you are faced with an injury, whether it is physical or mental, it is going to last for the rest of your life and your family is going to suffer from it and it is going to take you a lifetime to adapt and move on.”

In November, CSAH will host its fourth annual “Road to Recovery” conference for 350 veterans and their families. The all-expenses-paid, four-day get-together is an opportunity for the soldiers to meet job vendors and network with other, wounded and disabled comrades. The Department of Veteran Affairs will hold seminars on post-traumatic stress dis­order (PTSD) while the Department of Defence will host career forums.

“When you’re a wounded guy you think you are the only one going through it and then you’re in a room with 100 guys going through the same thing, or worse, it’s very therapeutic to say: ‘I’m not alone, and I’m going to make it’,” Mr Martinez says.

Paul Wilson, president of the world outreach division of Soles4Souls, says the non-profit organisation meets a basic human need: footwear. “Americans have 1.5bn pairs of shoes sitting idle in their closets. We connect people who have shoes with people who need shoes,” he says.
A pair of shoes can stop a cycle of pain. “A lot of people are living in conditions where they don’t have access to basic sanitation and clean water and it’s very easy for them to get infections,” Mr Wilson says. When people’s feet are separated from contaminants on the ground, it can instantly change their quality of life.

At Soles4Souls (www.soles4souls.org), no need is too small. Mr Wilson recently dispatched a single pair of steel-toed boots to Trenton, New Jersey, and later shipped a container to Africa. “It energises me just as much to send one pair of boots to a guy who got a welding job but couldn’t take it because he couldn’t afford a pair of steel-toed boots as it does to send a container of 25,000 pairs to Togo,” Mr Wilson says.

The charity works with domestic and international charities to identify people who need shoes. This month, for example, it sent waterproof Goretex boots to a group of men in Kenya who are digging 200ft wells – barefoot – as part of an initiative led by an organisation called Water For Kenya (www.waterforkenya.org).

Soles4Souls has distributed more than 2m pairs of shoes since 2004 when Wayne Elsey, a longtime footwear executive, orchestrated a nationwide shoe drive after the Asian tsunami. The result was more than 250,000 pairs of shoes. When Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast region in 2005, Mr Elsey assembled a team and launched KatrinaShoes.com. In 2006 the organisation was formally incorporated as Soles4Souls, a public charity.

The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies
Philanthropy has long been an impetus for improvements in healthcare, from John D. Rockefeller, whose money produced a yellow fever vaccine, to Bill and Melinda Gates, who are funding treatments for the “neglected diseases”, such as tuberculosis and malaria, which mainly affect the developing world.

“In the context that philanthropy supports research, it is society’s R&D arm,” says Jeffrey Solomon, president of the ACBP, a global family of charitable foundations. “Philanthropy is also society’s Band-Aid. Very often, when the other elements of society – the economy, family, government and religion – don’t work, it is up to philanthropy to provide the safety net.”

This month the field of “personalised medicine”, in which drugs and diets may be tailored to an individual’s genes, received a boost when the ACBP gifted $12.5m to the Mount Sinai Medical Center, providing seed funding for its new Center for Personalised Medicine.

“Personalised medicine could be the most important scientific development of the 21st century,” says Charles Bronfman, former co-chair of Seagram, the distiller, and chairman of the ACBP. “In an industry like medicine, where market forces are slow to change, philanthropy must play the role of catalyst – facilitating growth, inspiring awareness, and serving as a basis for change.”

The ACBP is committed to what it calls “investing in next generations” and sees personalised medicine as part of that. “This is not an investment that will pay immediate dividends, and very much fits in with our risk tolerance as this kind of investment is risky,” says Mr Solomon. “Since its inception, the ACBP [has] emphasised innovation and new business models as a core component in its grant-making decisions.”

Soles4Souls to collect shoes at marathon (from the NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL)

Nashville-based charity Soles4Souls Inc., which provides free footwear all over the world, will hold a shoe drive at the Country Music Marathon in Nashville April 28.

Soles4Souls volunteers will be at the Health and Fitness Expo at the Nashville Convention Center Saturday, giving out brochures and information.

The shoe drive is part of the Million Pair March campaign, which aims to raise $1million and collect 1 million pairs of shoes to send to the Sudan and surrounding areas of Africa that are stricken by poverty and war.

Soles4Souls volunteers oversee drop boxes and the group's delivery truck will be at the finish line of the marathon. Soles4Souls is asking for donations of "gently worn" shoes or money for shipping the shoes.

The first drop is scheduled for this fall to refugee camps in Southern Sudan.

The Million Pair March has been endorsed by celebrities including Don Cheadle, Jessica Alba, Melissa Rivers, and Scarlett Johansson, who had Reebok donate 2,000 pairs of shoes in her name to the cause.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Student Souls raise soles

The Auburn Plainsman reported that ELF (Exploring Leadership for Freshmen) put on a month-long shoe donation campaign for Soles4Souls. The drive started Feb. 20 and lasted until March 13. At the end of last year, ELF decided to adopt the Soles4Souls campaign as their annual philanthropic event for the school year 2006 to 2007. Tori Bray, a sophomore in agricultural business in economics, is the ELF director and participated in last year’s Soles4Souls drive.
“Last year we received over 200 pairs of shoes. This year we exceeded 400 pairs” Bray said.
Bins were set up in numerous places around campus. Students dropped off their new or old pairs of shoes, along with $1 for each pair to cover the cost of shipping. At the end of the drive, a footwear company donated a new pair of shoes for every pair that was given here at Auburn.
“This is a great way for Auburn students to give back to their community,” Bray said.

How many shoes have you donated, LSU?

Bashful Ostrich 5K runs with Soles4Souls

Soles4Souls will be at the annual Bashful Ostrich 5k and they want to take your running shoes! No, not the ones you will be wearing to the race of course, but the ones sitting in your closet that you no longer wear. Soles4Souls will collect new and used running shoes and donate them to the Philippus Church in the Over-the-Rhine section of Cincinnati to distribute to the poor and homeless. The shoes you donate can be new or slightly worn, they just ask that they do not look or smell like your uncle Al's tennis shoes that he has been wearing since the 60s.
This is the 7th annual Bashful Ostrich 5K run and walk where the net proceeds go to foundations that help survivors of sexual abuse. The race takes place in beautiful Sharon Woods on Memorial Day and begins at 9:00 a.m. This year they have teamed with Soles4Souls to help the local community in another positive way. Get there early and look for the Soles4Souls booth.

For more information on the Bashful Ostrich 5k, visit http://www.bashfulostrich5k.org/.

Celebrities give back at the Kids' Choice Awards

It was another year at the 2007 Kids' Choice Awards and another year I didn't win the 'Insightful Blogger of the Year' Award. I still had a lot fun though, mostly because I got some splatter on me when they slimed Vince Vaughn. We are friends, he just doesn't know it yet.
Afterwards, celebrities got to receive some cool Reebok shoes, but were also especially interested in learning about Soles4Souls, which is raising shoes for the Million Pair March to be delivered mostly to Sudan. Many celebrities asked to have Reebok shoes donated in their name to Soles4Souls. Hillary Duff (above) donated shoes and a pretty smile to the cause. Other celebrities that donated in their name included Angela Bassett, Nelly, Paula Abdul, Aaron Carter, George Lopez, Jackie Chan, and many others.

-Dylan Pearson

Stan's fit for your Feet

Add Jim Sajdack, the owner of Stan's Fit for Your Feet, to the list of those in the footwear industry who want to do more than just sell shoes. He wants to give them away. Affected by the images he saw from Hurricane Katrina, Sajdack felt compelled to help in the department in which he knows best: shoes.
So Jim Sajdack called on the help of Soles4Souls and he and the community of Greenfield helped over 5,000 people with new and gently used shoes he started collecting at his three stores in Brookfield, Glendale and Greenfield.
"This was a great opportunity to help the nation and the world." Sajdack said. "This is such an essential piece of clothing, to work, to function. It's just so essential."
As it turned out, he had plenty of support. A classroom at a parochial school in Mequon decided to help by collecting 380 pairs of shoes. One person brought in 50 pairs of shoes while others trickled into the store with one and two pairs they found in their closet.
"It was a win-win for everyone and it was gratifying to see the response people had for this cause," he said. Collected on April 6, the shoes were boxed and put into a shipping container that will be sent to Tanzania, where they will be distributed to people suffering from AIDS.
Even though the shoe drive has officially ended, Sajdack said he still gets voicemails from people asking if they can donate.
"Sure, I tell them, we'll do this again next year and make it an annual thing."

25th anniversary Reebok freestyle giveaway

You take one look at the freestyle Reebok from 1982 and you wonder why it was ever discontinued. It has everything I look for in a shoe: light weight construction, velcro, high top, Hi Metallic Sheen, velcro, purple laces, velcro.
Imagine my delight when I heard that Swagtime was giving away a pair! Imagine my despair when I found out it was women's size 8, I wear women's size 14. I 'm out of luck but if you are one of the thousands of women who wear a size 8 and love Hi Metallic Sheen, now is your chance! Visit http://www.swagtime.com/ and enter today. If you don't win, no worries. They will be back in stores in a town near you.
This all got started at the 2007 Kid's Choice awards when Reebok and a few celebrities teamed up with Soles4Souls to promote their quest to change the world one pair at a time.
Thanks to Reebok for bringing these stylish shoes back and thanks to Swagtime for giving away a pair.

Evans Elementary donates to Soles4Souls

God bless the children! John Evans Elementary presented Soles4Souls with a donation of $374.64 to be used for the victims of the Central Florida tornadoes. Four Central Florida counties were hit by tornadoes on February 2nd, 2007. This was very close to the town of Oviedo, where John Evans Elementray is located. Shelley Pike, the PTA Vice President, wanted to help.
"After reading about Soles4Souls in the Orlando Sentinel, we decided to have a monetary donation campaign for Soles4Souls, Inc. to help raise money to buy shoes for those in need in Central Florida." Said Pike.
John Evans Elementary then started the 'From the Heart to the Feet' campaign. For one week, children came in every morning bringing whatever money they could find to make a donation. Each child making a donation was given a paper shoe to display on the wall of the lobby.
These days most schools are strapped for cash. The money could have been used to purchase more books, art supplies, kick balls, a new slide, a taller flag pole or even 1,000 cartons of chocolate milk. As the children of John Evans found out, it feels better to give than to receive.
-Andy Stephens

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who's Doing Good? Scarlett Johansson

Can you believe there is a web site that actually talks about the good things celebrities do? Who would want to read that!? Well as it turns out, there are plenty of people sick of the bashing our favorite singers, movie stars and athletes have to endure from the media on a daily basis. I have to admit, I am one of them. For once I would like to see a headline like ' Johnny Depp is still with his Wife' or 'Brittany Spears stays home, reads a good book.' Celebrities do good things, we just rarely hear it.

Well now on GoodSearch.com there is a new page called 'Who's Doing Good?' Every day they feature a different celebrity, band, or company that is helping to make the world a better place. Why just the other day 'Who's Doing Good?' featured Scarlett Johansson who has recently teamed up with Reebok and Soles4Souls to donate 2,000 pairs of shoes to the needy in Sudan. She also has joined international agency Oxfam in the fight against poverty following a life-changing trip to India and Sri Lanka.

Who's Doing Good Now? GoodSearch.

-Dylan Pearson