Monday, December 29, 2008

Villages in Haiti Receive Footwear

A container of food, clothing and shoes were sent to villages in Haiti that were hit hard from hurricanes this past year. In partnership with Global Outreach Haiti, about 7500 pairs of shoes were distributed among villages in the Bon Repos area and suburbs of Port-au-Prince.

"We had hundreds of people waiting for us when we arrived with food, clothing and the new shoes," said David Heady of Global Outreach Haiti. "For many of these children and adults...all they have ever had on their feet were flip flops. What a thrill to see their faces light up as they received their new shoes and clothes," he said.

Four hurricanes or tropical storms—Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike—pounded Haiti one after the other in August and September of 2008, killing more than 800. Around a million people were left homeless and some 100,000 homes were damaged in the Caribbean country, which is the poorest in the region.

Through generous support from distributors, retailers and individuals, Soles4souls has sent about 100,000 pairs of shoes in the last four months to Haiti.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fairmont Hotels Announces ‘Give from the Sole’ Campaign

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, a leader in the global hospitality industry, has announced a partnership with Soles4Souls. Buying one gift card at Fairmont now means giving two gifts: for each gift card purchased before December 31, 2008, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will donate a pair of footwear to Soles4Souls.

The holiday season gift card donation is one aspect of a new partnership in which Fairmont properties worldwide donate gently used footwear from Fairmont Fit. The program offers members of Fairmont President’s Club, the brand’s exclusive guest recognition program, access to adidas athletic apparel for use during their stay.

“We would like to thank the people at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts for their generosity that allows us to accomplish our goals,” said Wayne Elsey, Founder & CEO of Soles4Souls. “The ‘Give from the Sole’ campaign will make a positive impact in thousands of lives,” he said.

“We’re proud to support Soles4Souls throughout the year, but particularly during the holiday season, when so many are in need,” said Brian Richardson, Fairmont’s Vice President Brand Marketing and Communications. “We know our guests will also welcome this opportunity to give back.”

Gift cards may be purchased at all Fairmont hotels and resorts, at Willow Stream Spas (in select hotels) or online at Online purchases are available in any denomination ranging from $50 to $5000.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Walking Place Drive

The Walking Place in Rookwood Commons in Cincinnati, OH has partnered with Soles4Souls for a shoe drive. This is the fourth year that the shoe store has hosted a drive for Soles4Souls.

"Before working with Soles4Souls, we would give donated shoes to local charities," said Debbie Davis of The Walking Place. "However after hearing about Soles4Souls we felt that their organization could allow us to help more people."

Davis said those who donate will receive 15 percent off of a new pair of shoes. The Walking place has seen donations increase every year through word of mouth.

New or gently used shoes can be dropped off at The Walking Place in Rookwood Commons at 2733 Edmondson Road Cincinnati, Ohio until the end of the year.

The Walking Place offers a world-class selection of European comfort shoes, more brand names and more styles than anywhere else in the entire Midwest.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Elementary Students Collect Shoes for Needy

St. Columbkille Elementary School in Dubuque, IA recently teamed with Soles4Souls to collect gently worn shoes for people in need throughout the world and in the U.S.

The school collected 298 pairs of shoes from community members and raised $410 between Nov. 21 through Dec. 1. They also received a donation from UPS that will go toward shipping the shoes to the Soles4Souls primary warehouse in Roanoke, Ala.

Great job St. Columbkille Elementary School!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Soles4Souls Featured in National Geographic's "The Green Guide"

National Geographic Magazine has featured Soles4Souls in "The Green Guide" that highlights the humanitarian process, following a sample of donated shoes to the Soles4Souls warehouse and continuing to a final destination benefiting children in Mexico.

The Green Guide makes living in an environmentally-aware way easy, understandable, and practical. Intended for general consumers, the Green Guide (in print and on the web) shows people how to make small changes that add up to big benefits for their wallets, for their health, and, of course, for the health of the planet.

"Appearing in The Green Guide is an incredible honor," said Wayne Elsey of Soles4Souls. "It's humbling to see our work presented in such a prestigious publication and we are very grateful for the beautiful photo essay. The story clearly demonstrates the generosity of our partners and volunteers, and we are truly blessed to have fantastic supporters join with us to change the world one pair at a time," he said.

Elsey said that ongoing support is crucial to the success of Soles4Souls. "Simply cleaning out your closet and sending us your forgotten pairs can make a huge impact on someone's life. If you've ever wondered where your donated shoes end up, we invite you to get a current issue of The Green Guide and see for yourself," he said.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Key Club Sole Project

When the Harrisonburg High School Key Club in Harrisburg, VA began collecting shoes for those in need, its members never anticipated the response the project would receive.

Since the beginning of November, when it began collecting shoes for Soles4Souls, the club has gathered between 1,200 and 1,300 pairs of footwear.
HHS teachers, staff members and students donated all but about 80 pairs of the shoes the Key Club has collected, said Maurizio "Tony" Antonnicola, club adviser. Some of the shoes are gently used, while others are practically brand new, he said.

"It turned out to be much more successful than we thought it would,"" said Meredith Rose, 17, a senior and Key Club member, of the project.

In fact, many of the Key Club members were skeptical about the project at first because they didn't think it would draw much of a response, Antonnicola said.

It wasn't until a national news story aired about a college basketball coach who went barefoot to draw attention to the need for shoes around the world that students really got on board with the project, Antonnicola said.

After committing to the effort, Key Club members began getting the word out about the shoe drive. They told their friends about the project, erected a display near the school's library and broadcast it on the school's student news program.

Before they knew it, club members say, they had hundreds of pairs of shoes and the donations kept pouring in. The drive has really given students an insight into people's waste, they say.

"Statistics are great and all but they're just numbers,"" said Tina Nguyen, 17, a junior and Key Club member, referring to the statistics regarding the number of idle shoes. "This project was kind of an eye-opener."

Members of the club say their goal going into the drive was to collect 1,000 pairs of shoes, but they've already exceeded that and still have nine more days to collect donations.

As the drive enters its last days, club members say they hope to collect a few more pairs of children's shoes, before an HHS staff member hauls the donations to the Soles4Souls distribution center in Nashville, Tenn.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nashville Schools Help Raise Money For Sole4Souls

Three Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools are contributing shoes and funds to Soles4Souls.

Encore Program students at Croft and J.T. Moore Middle Schools are hosting a shoe drive, Dec. 8-12, to collect shoes for Soles4Souls and to help break the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of shoes. The students will be collecting new and slightly used shoes, all sizes, for women, men and children. The shoe collection will be combined with other shoe donations at Opry Mills Mall on Dec. 20.

Croft students will also be participating in the Walking a Mile in Their Shoes fundraiser, Dec 15 and Dec. 16. The walk will help raise funds to purchase new shoes for Soles4Souls.

H.G. Hill Middle School students will assist Soles4Souls by hosting a penny drive. Money collected from the drive will also be used to purchase new shoes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Group in Oregon Collects Shoes

The McDonald group, a staffing agency in Bend OR, hosted a Holiday party where 191 pair of gently worn shoes were collected. More than half of those shoes will be donated to Soles4Souls, the rest will go to the Bend Community Center.

"To see the Bend, Oregon community come together to support this cause was incredible.," said Anne McDonald, the president and CEO of The McDonald Group. "I feel fortunate to live and work with people that give back to those in need both locally and abroad.”

The McDonald group also collected 380 pounds of food for the less fortunate in the Central Oregon area. Proceeds of the party went to the local Boys and Girls club that recently had to shut their doors for 30 days due to funding.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Long Journey for Barefoot Teen Nears Completion

Dashiel Alsup can't help but look back on the seven months since he stepped away from the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean and started walking toward Florida. The first week was brutal: his feet were coated with blisters, he was consumed with loneliness and plagued with doubts about ever reaching the East Coast. 
"Florida felt like a fairly impossible goal," he says. 
But Dash kept walking, mile after mile.
The 19-year-old encountered wild animals in the cold Oregon mountains and suffered through 100+ degree heat walking through the Flaming Gorge in Utah during a scorching week. 
"Yeah, those were hot days, and 60 miles between stops," he said. "But coming into Vernal, Utah and getting to the 7-11 to pick up an ice cold 44 ounce Big Gulp was joyous," he says, laughing.

Dash kept walking, steadily achieving 20-25 miles per day, mostly barefoot, through ColoradoKansas and Missouri
"There were a few times that I had to put on sandals, when the road conditions were just too hot or the debris was so bad," he says.

He lost count of the number of people who gave him food or gave him a place to stay for the night, insisting on feeding him dinner, or sharing their faith. 
"America is full of incredibly gracious people," he says. "I can't tell you how many times someone went out of their way to help me. They had no idea what I was up to, they were just doing it from their heart."

There were also times his safety was in doubt. Occasionally, locals would confront him about his intentions before they realized he was supporting charity. Dash spent one day working for a man who had spent 11 years in prison for drug smuggling. 
"Here we are alone, deep in the woods, and I'm hauling brush while he's getting sauced and revving up his chainsaw," Dash says. "Turns out he was a good guy; he just wanted someone to confide in, not chop into pieces."
Dash started appearing in newspaper stories and being featured on television, especially in Nashville, where Soles4Souls is based. He walked together with charity Founder, Wayne Elsey, to a local shelter to distribute shoes to the homeless.
"He is a special kid, and there's no doubt his commitment to helping people is authentic," says Elsey. "Just look at all the fans he has who are following his epic journey. We're proud to be associated with him."
He walked southeast through Georgia, sensing the end of the journey and counting down the number of miles to Jacksonville. Today, he's less than 100 miles from the end of his journey, and hundreds of supporters and Soles4Souls staff will be on hand to walk with him to the Atlantic. Even several NFL players from the Jacksonville Jaguars will be in attendance and participate in another shoe distribution for homeless in their city.
"I'm happy that I can bring some attention to Soles4Souls," he says. "It's a simple thing, you know, putting shoes on people's feet. For people without shoes, it can mean the world."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Soldiers in Iraq Sending Boots

Here is a recent email from a soldier in Iraq helping to collect boots from her fellow soldiers.

My name is Christine Brosius and I am currently deployed to Iraq. We are re-deploying soon and I am collecting shoes from a lot of the soldiers in the area to donate to your organization.

The only problem is I can not wash these shoes, because we don’t have access to washing machines to wash the shoes in. We turn in our laundry, but they will not let us wash shoes. I have had a lot of support and would like these shoes that are probably still good, but as you may know it is very dusty and muddy here, so Soldiers are getting rid of their shoes before we go back.

I have a box now and probably will have another box in JAN. If you don’t mind us not washing these shoes, and want them for donation, please respond back so I can get them mailed to you. Thanks in advance.

Christine Brosius

Thank you Christine, we can always use sturdy boots. Don't worry about washing them, we will clean them. Thanks for the support and we hope you come home soon!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Vermont Doctors Get Shoes For The Homeless

Winter is a bad time to walk around in worn-out shoes, especially for the homeless. That's why a group of medical professionals from Fletcher Allen Health Care at the University of Vermont got involved with Soles4Souls to hand out brand new shoes to those who need them the most.

The program focused on the Day Station at the Committee on Temporary Shelter in Burlington, VT. It's a place for the homeless to get out of the weather and sit down during the day.

This time, they sat down in front of a couple of foot doctors to get fitted for new shoes. The Redwing company donated 12,000 pairs nationwide to the cause. The homeless themselves will tell you, a new pair makes all the difference.

Bill Blood, a Burlington COTS client, said, "After jeopardizing myself this morning by slipping and sliding six times on my royal rump this morning, on the ice -- even with a cane -- Ahhh, I'm so glad I have something good now to give me some traction."

The COTS shoes for the homeless program is a nice fit for the Day Station. That's because COTS does more than just provide shelter. The agency tries to help the homeless help themselves.
The homeless tend to encounter mounting problems, of which doctors Jim Michelson and Mark Charlson are well aware -- including poor health.

Dr. Jim Michelson, a Fletcher Allen Health Care Orthopedic Surgeon, said, "I think if they do have more problems it's because they don't come to medical care, you know, they don't have the opportunity to take care of themselves. They don't have a place to sit down at night and take off their shoes and socks. They wear them for days on end, which is not healthy. But I think that's really the main issue. It's the health access issue," he said.

A decent pair of shoes is a basic start. Any obvious medical problems are also spotted. Shoes for the Homeless had about a hundred pairs to give away on this occasion. It's one step that could make the winter easier to bear for those who took advantage of it.