Tuesday, June 26, 2007

BCNY donates 72,000 pairs of shoes

BCNY International of New York has donated 72,000 pairs of children's shoes and slippers to Soles4Souls. The majority of footwear has already been distributed in parts of Russia and the Ukraine. Volunteers and staff of the foundation BERKAT has already unloaded some of the cargo to refugees, orphans, churches and to poor or large families who live in the city of Kiev and in the Kievskiy region.

BERKAT has reported that 189 children in refugee camps, 756 orphan children, 489 kids in poor or large families and 234 children through the church of Nikolay have all received footwear. That's over 1,600 children with new shoes or warm slippers!

"Many orphans could not believe their eyes when they were receiving slippers from the caring people," said BERKAT representative Taisa Bazarkaeva. "Most of these kids have never experienced this kind of blessing and they will never forget it. God bless the USA."

Kids in Seattle receive new shoes

Do you remember when you received a brand new pair of running shoes when you were a kid? You probably thought those shoes were going to make you jump higher and run faster. Well this week, there are 56 faster kids in Seattle.

The children enrolled in the after school program at Madrona Elementary School may not have much, but now they can sport a new pair of athletic shoes. Many of these kids come from poor families or single parent homes where mom or dad may have to work two jobs just to pay for the necessities, like food and the mortgage. A new pair of shoes is a luxury item.

"Their shoes were just falling apart," said after school coordinator, Jeanene Laegreid. "They were so excited to receive new shoes! On behalf of Madrona Elementary, I want to thank Soles4Souls for the donation to the students."

The students have already made good use of them. Many of the kids are involved in the Walking in Steps for Health program. They are learning about good nutrition and the importance of exercise. After school, they do a number of track activities including running laps, relays, low hurdles and dashes. They have held their own track meet and next week, they will run in the SeaTac Fun Run.

Expect to see 56 kids leading the pack.

Soles4Souls in Honduras

Soles4Souls focused this week's distribution on the poorest of the poor. Honduras is well-known to be a third world country, but it's not without it's successful businesses, shiny SUV's, and fine restaurants. The capital city, Tegucigalpa, can show the gap between the rich and the poor quite plainly. About 20 city residents recieved athletic shoes from Soles4Souls featuring the New Balance, Asics, and Reebok brands. Most feet in the city have shoes, so Soles4Souls turned to those without.

The Isle of Tiger lies south of Tegucigalpa, within an inlet that protects it from the Pacific Ocean's rough waters. The team brought about 3,000 pair to the island, mostly in a Holey Soles unisex shoe. All the Holey Soles along with See Kai Run and Teva brands, were loaded into 15 foot boats and headed to the Island. The shoes coursed just a mile or two to the island's dock where they were reloaded onto 4 pick-up trucks for transport inside. Team members piled on top of shoes stacked 8 feet tall and held on for dear life along the rough roads.

"It feels like we're on National Geographic", commented team member Chris Baldwin.

A site near a school was chosen for distribution, and the community rallied together quickly upon the team's arrival. The trucks parked in a circle and three lines were formed for shoe distribution. Each person was sized by shoe sizers donated by the Woodrow Engineering Company in Sister Bay, WI and Justin Blair & Co. of Chicago, IL. Thanks to the sizers, each person was appropriately fitted.

"I think everyone here has been served", said team member Jerry Cotney, after several hours of intense distribution and accomplishing the day's objective.
Indeed, Holey Soles, Teva, and See Kai Run shoes could be seen in bright colors up and down the dusty roads. Team members said their farewells and traversed back across the island with the remaining shoes left over. They went back into storage in a warehouse within Tegucigalpa for later distribution.

Paul Wilson

Monday, June 25, 2007

Soles4Souls joins CharityBegins to help trekkers

One person can make a world of difference. CharityBegins.org was started in 2006 when Jennifer Mahran, an American tourist heading to Peru for vacation, used her extra luggage space to carry shoes to a local non-profit. The experience stuck with her and she and her partner John Lagrotteria started Charity Begins. Living by her mission to help socially-conscious travelers help the communities they’re visiting, Mahran has done humanitarian work in a dozen countries, including a brief teaching assignment in Cambodia.

Most recently, Mahran has done volunteer work at Laliguran's Womens Center in Nepal. While in Nepal, she saw the need to help a trekking union called UNITRAV receive the proper footwear for their expeditions. She contacted Soles4Souls and soon La Sportivas were on the way. La Sportiva North America is a company of climbers, by climbers and for climbers. They make some of the best boots in the business.

"I'm very happy that we could help," said Mayran. "I'm so happy that the boots brought smiles to everyone."

Shiva Thapa, a senior member of the union was extremely happy to see new boots for UNITREV.

"On behalf of the Union and on my side, I want to thank Soles4Souls and CharityBegins for your outstanding contribution," said Thapa. "It won't be possible without your help. We really appreciate it."

To see more photos of the event, visit charitybegins.org.

Charity softball game a hit

Thanks to coach Jeff Fisher, Soles4Souls was able to collect over 400 pairs of shoes at the seventh annual “Jeff Fisher & Friends” Charity Softball Game. Fisher, who is very excited about the cause, invited the local charity to collect new and 'gently worn shoes' to be distributed locally and to poverty stricken areas all over the world.

The annual Tennessee Titans charity softball game may have ended in a tie, but everyone came out a winner. Fans packed Greer Stadium Saturday night for the chance to watch their favorite Titans compete in the game that featured present and former members of the Tennessee Titans. Players competed against one another on the baseball diamond, while also helping the community.

Around 25 Titans came out to support their head coach, including Vince Young, Ben Troupe and Chris Hope. They were joined by former Titans Eddie George and Chris Sanders.
“I wanted to come out because this is a good thing for charity and I also wanted to help Coach Fisher out,” said Chris Brown. “Anything that has to do with charity and is a positive influence I am more than happy to help. I’m definitely happy to be back.”

Former Titan and fan favorite Eddie George received a warm welcome from the crowd, with chants of “Eddie, Eddie” as he was introduced in the lineup.
“It’s always good to come out and support Coach Fisher, whatever he is doing,” said George. “It’s been a while since I’ve been around these guys, so it’s always good.”
For the first time in seven years, the game ended in a tie. After playing 11 innings, with the score tied 8-8, Fisher decided to call it a game. That didn't seem to bother anybody as everyone had a great time supporting all Titans and the local charities.

Soles4Souls is looking forward to future endeavors with the community minded Titans. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Franco Sarta and Nordstrom host shoe drive

The Nordstrom at Phipps Plaza in Atlanta collected 43 pairs of shoes over the weekend to be donated to Soles4Souls. Customers who donated their new or gently worn shoes received $10.00 off their next pair of Franco Sartos. The popular brand conducted the drive as part of the ACT program, the company wide effort to make a difference in local communities.

"I want to thank Soles4Souls for partnering with us," said Michelle Meyer, the Southeast Coordinate for Franco Sarto. "They were very easy to work with."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Free Lance Star features Soles4Souls

As seen on Fredericksburg.com, The Free Lance Star featured a great article on the history and founder of Soles4Souls.

After climbing the corporate ladder in the shoe industry, Stafford County native decided to try to change the world, one pair at a time.

Wayne Elsey was watching tsunami coverage 2 years ago when he saw a single shoe wash up on shore.

It changed his life.

Shoes had been Elsey's sole means of support for decades. He worked full-time at the Gallenkamp shoe store in Fredericksburg before graduating from Stafford High School in 1983.

By age 23, he was regional vice president of a national chain of shoe stores. By 34, he was president of his own company.

"Wayne's done great for himself," said Dan Brown, a former Stafford resident who graduated with Elsey. "He was always very business-oriented and aggressive."

But that December night in 2004, as the world witnessed the devastation in Asia, Elsey decided to use his business savvy to give away shoes rather than sell them.

He called industry friends and arranged drop-off points and shipments. He hoped to collect 5,000 pairs of shoes.

He got almost 250,000.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Elsey again watched TV news from his home in Nashville.

He thought: "If we can do that for southeast Asia, what can we do for Americans who are eight hours away?"

Elsey went to Mississippi and helped distribute footwear. He set up a Web site and worked with churches, Scout groups and businesses. He collected 750,000 pairs of shoes.

Things quieted down after the disasters, but something kept bugging the 42-year-old. Elsey thought about people, around the corner or on the other side of the world, who do without shoes every day.

A pair of shoes could protect them from injuries and pollution and give them a sense of dignity.

Elsey formed the non-profit Soles4Souls.

He incorporated a year ago and already has programs in 35 countries.

Soles4Souls hands out shoes to homeless people in Florida and refugees in the Sudan. It has given work boots to unemployed men in New Jersey and dress shoes to battered women in Texas trying to break into the business world.

"If you have a need for shoes, we're there," he said.

Elsey initially juggled his jobs as president of Kodiak-Terra USA and founder of Soles4Souls. The nonprofit had a "shoestring budget," he said, until it got a grant from the World Shoe Association.

A third of the money went to set up warehouses in Alabama and Nevada and to pay 17 employees. Elsey said the rest will be used to hold world-class concerts, similar to Live Aid productions. Money generated will go toward "changing the world one pair at a time," he said.

Elsey decided to leave his post as CEO of the shoe company and to focus full-time on the non-profit he founded. He lost about half his annual salary in the process, but said the timing is right.

"I've made some money and now it's time for me to give back," said Elsey, whose daughter, Melissa, just graduated from Stafford High School.

Those who knew Elsey when he lived in Hartwood aren't surprised by his success or his big heart.

Jackie Busch, his English teacher, saw those traits when Elsey was a teen.
For instance, when he overheard a classmate tell Busch she kept having car trouble, Elsey paid to have the car fixed.

"He would very quietly help anyone he could, with no expectation of being paid back," Busch said. "He was just a good kid."

George Carter supervised Elsey at the Fredericksburg shoe store and recognized him as a "go-getter."

"He will make it successful," said Carter, who owns the store in Rockville. "No doubt."

Kathy Dyson

Monday, June 18, 2007

NFL players help Soles4Souls donate 1,000 pairs of shoes to rescue mission

Nashville based charity Soles4Souls Inc., the global organization dedicated to providing free footwear to people in need all over the world, donated over 1,000 pairs of shoes today to the Nashville Rescue Mission.

Soles4Souls staff, along with volunteers from Bellevue Community Church, as well as NFL Safety, Chris Hope, NFL Running Back, Chris Brown, and Vice Mayor Howard Gentry, Chair of the Homeless Commission, were on hand to fit guests of the mission with their new pairs of shoes.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Center conducting shoe drive

Esther Miller, owner and solo practitioner of the Transition Counseling Center is pleased to help provide a basic gift that most take for granted.

The center located on the second floor at 149 Main Street in Cooperstown, will be holding a shoe drive until June 30. People can drop off lightly worn or new shoes for distribution worldwide in the collection boxes on site. Miller asks that each pair of shoes be wrapped with a rubber band.

This is the first year the center has teamed up with the US-based non-profit group Soles4Souls, which provides footwear to those who have none. Miller said she heard and read about the organization then chose it for the for the center’s first step in helping people globally.

Soles4Soules mission is to impact as many lives as possible with the gift of shoes and Miller, who is a clinical social worker, said, "For me, I usually work to help individual people work to effect change, one person at a time. And doing a charity drive for a group like Soles4Souls enables me to work to effect change on a larger scale.

When choosing a charity to support, Miller has found that giving tangible items where donors will know the end use is more effective than writing a check.

Miller is not sure how many shoes will be donated, but she would like people to look into their closets and ask themselves which shoes haven’t been worn in a long time because maybe someone else could be wearing them now.

Soles4Souls was started by long-term footwear executive Wayne Elsey after successful footwear drives for victims of the Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. According to Miller, Soles4Souls donated 250,000 pair of shoes to the victims of the Tsunami and then donated 750,000 pair of shoes for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"I like those numbers and I like their intention." Miller said. "I am happy to help them."

Staff Writer Michelle Miller

Tennessee Titans to team up with Soles4Souls

Comcast Cable proudly announces players for the 2007 Comcast "Jeff Fisher & Friends" Charity Softball Game Presented by Regions Bank. The charity softball game is set for Saturday, June 23, 2007 at 7 PM at Greer Stadium.

"Friends" include Vince Young, Chris Hope, David Thornton, Kevin Mawae, Craig Hentrich, Keith Bulluck, Ben Troupe, Kerry Collins, Lamont Thompson, Cooper Wallace, Kenny Amato, Donnie Nickey, Danial Loper, Coach Norm Chow, Coach Alan "Music City Miracle" Lowry and Coach Steve Watterson. Other Alumni "Friends" include Steve McNair, Frank Wycheck and Chris Sanders. More players will be announced next week.

New this year, the Nashville-based charity, Soles4Souls Inc., the global organization dedicated to providing free footwear to people in need all over the world, will be conducting a shoe drive at the charity softball game for the Million Pair March campaign. Soles4Souls will be manning drop boxes and the Soles4Souls delivery truckwill be at the main gate at Greer Stadium so that fans may donate their shoes to this worthy cause.

Soles4Souls is asking fans to each donate one pair of new or 'gently worn' shoes and/or money for shipping the shoes to the Sudan, a notoriously poverty and war stricken area of the world. The first drop is scheduled for the Fall 2007 in the refugee camps of Southern Sudan, with more to follow. The Million Pair March has already been endorsed by some of Hollywood's finest, including Don Cheadle, Jessica Alba, Melissa Rivers, and Scarlett Johansson, who graciously had Reebok donate 2,000 pairs of shoes in her name to the cause.

Gates will open at 5:00 PM and parking is free. Early arrivals can watch pre-game activities such as an exhibition game played by the Little League Softball Clubs, the "Hit it Out of the Park"contest between the NFL Players. Admission is $10.00 for General Admission and $15.00 for Reserved Seats. In addition, the game has added a Kids' ticket, 12 and under, for $6.00. Tickets are on sale now through The Nashville Sounds ticket office or bycalling at 615/242-4371. Show your KrogerPlus card, Military or StudentID and get $1 off. For more event information, please go to http://www.nashvillesounds.com/ or http://www.titansonline.com/.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bellevue Community Church holds 1,000 pair weekend

Bellevue Community Church held the "1,000 Shoe Weekend" that supported the Soles4Souls campaign to collect a million pairs of new and gently worn shoes. The community minded church encouraged members of the congregation to attend a service during the weekend of May 19th and 20th and leave their shoes on the altar in order to demonstrate God's love to hurting people across the world with the simple gift of shoes. Half of the pairs donated during the weekend will support the Million Pair March; the other half will be delivered to the Nashville Rescue Mission for distribution to the region's homeless population.

Bellevue Community Church's new senior pastor, David Perez, says that the Million Pair March is the type of grassroots campaign that his congregation will support in a major way.

"The people at this church have huge hearts for missions and making a tangible difference in someone's life," Perez said. "Shoes are a simple commodity that we all take for granted, and by donating the shoes right off our feet, we hope to inspire our community to get involved in helping less fortunate people in our community, as well as around the world," Perez said.

"Compassionate church members -- like the ones at Bellevue Community Church -- are helping transform our charity's goals into reality," said Wayne Elsey, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Soles4Souls. "We are impressed with their creative ideas on how to reach out to their community and the world. We are especially delighted that a church body from our community would partner with us in such a big way," Elsey said.

Elsey is also exploring the environmental benefits of Soles4Souls. "Recycling is a big part of being socially conscious, and discarded shoes take up an enormous amount of space in our nation's landfills," he said. "The concept is really a win-win for people and the environment. Donating your shoes will help someone in need and not take up unnecessary space in our landfills," he said.

According to Elsey, there are two ways individuals can get involved with the campaign. The first is to clean out individual closets and ship the shoes to the charity's warehouse in Alabama for worldwide distribution. Many celebrities, athletes, politicians, and even hundreds of schoolchildren have already raised hundreds of thousands of shoes for the effort. The second is to donate money to be used completely for shipping expenses. Details are available at http://www.giveshoes.org/.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Soles4Souls reaches Grand Milestone

Since the inception of Soles4souls in 2005, the organization has donated 2.5 million pairs of shoes in over 30 countries. That is one pair given to a needy man, woman or child every 28 seconds. It's enough shoes to cover the length of a football field around 12,500 times. What began with a handful of members from a Nashville church has blossomed into an organization dedicated to changing the world one pair at a time.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Soles4Souls acts locally at Rosebank Elementary

It's not everyday people buy a new pair of shoes, especially in families where the main priority is to put food on the table. Most of the families whose children attend Rosebank Elementary fall in that category.

Soles4Souls was alerted to some of the needs and was glad to help. On May 22nd, every student and adult in the school walked out of Rosebank Elementary with a new pair of summer shoes, a great note upon which to end the school year.
The nonprofit has given shoes all over the world, to everyone from Hurricane Katrina victims to people in African refugee camps. Founder Wayne Elsey believes it is important to reach out closer to home as well.

"We've given to 35 different countries, but when the poverty level at home is growing, we thought it was time to step up locally," Elsey said. "Let's make sure that people here and in other cities in this country don't get forgotten. We just go out there and try to make a difference one pair at a time."

Soles4Souls has given to the school for two years, and it would like to try and expand the program at Rosebank.

"We're giving them shoes to have fun in this summer, and then we'd like to come back in August and give school shoes," Elsey said. "We'd like to try to keep money in mom and dad's pocket to help feed their families rather than buy shoes."

Some staff members from Bellevue Community Church came to volunteer for the effort. Pastor David Perez believes it's important the staff set an example of serving.

"We hooked up with Wayne, and Soles4Souls really opened our eyes to getting shoes to people in need," Perez said. "Our staff is here today, because we ourselves have to reach out. It's our mantra that we want people to grow in compassion, to soften their heart, open their eyes, and reach out their arms. The staff should be an example of that."

And the students and teachers are grateful. They know how hard their students work, and they're glad to see the community step in and become part of the school.

"This is a blessing for the entire school," said principal Jeannie Crowell. "When I first came on board we had no Pencil Partners and no community partners, and we've really tried to bring the community in to be a part of our schools. Having a community partner is such an asset. There's good things going on in every school, including Rosebank, and we want to show that. It's important that the community comes in and helps us as a school system."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Diani hosts party for a good cause

Diani Shoes is the latest to put its best foot forward in Santa Barbara’s shoe biz. On May 17, the store hosted more than 100 people for a private opening gala. Young entrepreneur Caroline Diani has owned Diani in the Arlington Plaza since 2002 and Diani Essentials opened two years thereafter. In her latest venture, Caroline has teamed up with Santa Barbara Magazine, Kyle Brace, Kendall Conrad, Jelinda DeVorzon, Patsy Hirsch, Arlene Montesano, Daryl Stegall and Mary Ellen Trainor Zemeckis for a by-invitation-only opening night gala.

In the midst of all the mingling and socializing, guests checked out each other’s shoes while trying on new shoes by designers such as Pedro Garcia, Chloe, French Sole, Bernardo and Tracy Reese. As part of the event, Caroline donated 20% of proceeds to Soles4Souls, Inc., an international charity dedicated to providing free footwear to needy people around the world. All invited guests were asked to bring a pair or two of gently worn flat-soled shoes that the hostesses plan on shipping to refugee camps in southern Sudan. Montecito techno wizard Michael Hurley projected visual images of the Sudanese refugees on the store wall.
During the opening weekend of May 18, 19 and 20, the public also received 20% off any purchase of new shoes in exchange for a donation of a pair of gently used ones.

West Sacramento Businesses Team Up to Donate Shoes to Sudan Refugees

A biotech company and a grocery store in West Sacramento are collecting new or "gently used" shoes for refugees in Sudan as part of the Soles4Souls campaign. Affymetrix, a biotech company that produces a gene chip for medical diagnostics, and the Grocery Outlet have both set up drop boxes at their businesses.

Melissa Hotell, the Human Resources Manager at Affymetrix said the company wanted to do something positive for the world community. "There's an estimated 1.52 billion pairs of unwanted shoes in closets," said Hotell.

Shannon Flick, the owner/operator of the Grocery Outlet in West Sacramento said she thought the project was "a great cause and we wanted to help out."

The shoes will be sent to Nevada where the organization Soles4Souls will ship them to refugees in Sudan. The shoe drive in West Sacramento will continue through the month of June. New or gently used shoes can be dropped off at Affymetrix at 890 Embarcadero Drive in West Sacramento or at the Grocery Outlet at 845 Harbor Boulevard.