Friday, July 27, 2007

Soles4Souls Provides Shoes For The Needy In Kansas City

The idea was to send help around the world, but the organizer changed her mind after seeing the need right here in the Metro.

It's a program meant to send shoes to people who need them most. Pairs have been sent to tsunami victims, hurricane victims and now they'll be used by folks in the Metro of Kansas City.

The owner of Hathaway Shoe, Jill Hathaway, knows shoes. She also knows the perfect pair is an unreachable luxury for some so she asked customers to donate gently used shoes to Soles4Souls.

"Customers are bringing in bags and bags and boxes and boxes, which is exciting for this whole program," Hathaway said.

Hathaway received about 2,000 pairs of gym shoes, boots, sandals. Originally, Hathaway thought Soles4Souls would help children around the world. That is, until she got a call from her own backyard.

"We have children here with very little. Literally, just the clothes off their backs," stated Rachel Larsen with Marillac.

Little feet needed big help at Marillac, a kids' psychiatric treatment center. Larsen called Hathaway looking for a donation of shoes without laces. Boxes of shoes are now coming into Marillac.

"We try as much as possible to keep things out of the facility that may harm the children or that they may use to harm themselves," Larsen said. "Donations are really what make Marillac run."

"I said, 'Gosh, could we be part of that,' because our clients obviously need a lot of things," Leslie Caplan with New House said. Directors at New House are picking up donations now too. 100 pairs of new shoes are helping women escaping abuse take a step in the right direction.

"They need to dress for success and have esteem. A new pair of shoes would do that. Does it for me," Caplan said with a laugh.

Soles4Souls runs through the weekend at Hathaway Shoes. Bring in a pair of gently used shoes and Hathaway will take a percentage off your purchase.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

See Kai Run donating shoes

See Kai Run recently teamed up with Soles4Souls to distribute a large donation of shoes to children in need. The family-run Seattle company distributes shoes for pre and early walkers. The buttery soft leather and flexible sole are perfect for tender baby feet.

Over 10,000 pairs of these comfortable shoes have been donated to Soles4Souls and are ready for distribution!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More students receive new kicks

Students with the Charles Davis Learning Foundation received a gift to kick start the new school year Monday. The Nashville-based charity Soles 4 Souls fit each student who participated in the Camp Peace Program with a new pair of shoes. The Camp Peace Program is an eight week youth enrichment program for children from low income families.

"We give away a pair of shoes every 28 seconds all around the world," stated founder Wayne Elsey. "And I've made a huge commitment here to Nashville and to the United States that we will give away a lot of shoes over the next 12 months. This is just one of the many events planned this year in Nashville, Tennessee.”

The students were fitted for shoes at the Charles Davis Learning Foundation on Metro Center Boulevard. The kids were very excited.

“It pretty much makes everybody feel special," stated student Wayne McGhee. "They're all getting new shoes that they've probably never seen before."

Soles4Souls in NY Times

July 20, 2007

Wayne Elsey was sitting on his couch watching television footage from the Asian tsunami when he saw an image that still haunts him -- a single shoe washing up on shore.

The shoe company executive called his friends in the industry the next day and asked for help collecting new and used shoes for those displaced by the massive wave that killed 230,000 people. All told, they sent about 250,000 pairs.

He collected nearly a million pairs the following year when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast.

Soon afterward, Elsey left the shoe business for good and started a charity that gives shoes to people after natural disasters, but also to the homeless and other needy people. He called it Soles4Souls.

With his group, Elsey has given away nearly 2.5 million pairs of shoes, distributed in 35 countries.

''The simplicity of what we do -- we get and give shoes -- people understand it,'' said Elsey, 42.

Now the charity is trying to give away 1 million pairs of shoes in the Sudan by the end of the year. A civil war in the Darfur region of Sudan has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions since 2003.

In the United States, homeless advocates say people don't typically donate shoes to charity or even think about how important they are to the poor and homeless.

''There is a tremendous need for shoes,'' said Michael Stoops, acting executive director for the National Coalition for the Homeless.

''People when they donate to shelters or soup kitchens, very seldom do they donate shoes because most people don't think of shoes when they think of homelessness. But when you think about it, they're on their feet all day, walking around.''

Brenda Peoples and her 7-year-old granddaughter both got free shoes last month when Soles4Souls handed out Crocs -- those colorful, rubbery clogs -- at the girl's school in Nashville.

''It was a blessing to a lot of parents. It was wonderful, and I truly appreciate it because I'm raising her,'' Peoples said. ''It allowed me to use some money for something else.''

After the hurricanes hit, Elsey said he helped create the Web site That's when Elsey -- then president of footwear company Kodiak-Terra Inc. -- realized his hobby could be a full-time job.

Soles4Souls gets its shoes from footwear companies, retailers and other groups, who donate shoes both new and used. Many are customer returns, factory defects or excess inventory.
The footwear is inspected for quality, sorted by gender and size, packed into boxes and later distributed to charities or other groups.

''At the end of the day it feels good to me to give back something I know. And I know shoes,'' Elsey said. ''It feels good to give something so simple.''

Associated Press