Monday, November 30, 2009

Giving Detroiters a Foot Up (

Posted by Karen Dybis Time Magazine

As Metro Detroit enters the holiday season, many non-profit organizations and businesses are planning special events to help those in need. Assignment Detroit will highlight some of these through photo essays, blog posts and the like.

This one comes from Henry Ford Hospital, where orthopedic foot specialists provided free foot screenings and handed out new shoes and socks to the homeless during the Our Hearts to Your Soles charity event Tuesday at the Neighborhood Service Organization's 24-hour Walk-in Center in Detroit.

The Our Hearts to Your Soles event is part of the national event to distribute new and gently worn shoes to needy people in 40 states.

Nashville-based Soles4Souls™ facilitates the donations of both new and used shoes, which are used to aid people worldwide. Since its inception, Soles4Souls has distributed more than five million pairs of shoes in less than five years to people in 61 countries, including Honduras, Romania, Thailand, and the Sudan.

According to Dr. David Katcherian, M.D., division head of Foot and Ankle Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital:

We gave out slightly more than 140 pairs of brand new shoes and boots and 280 pairs of new socks. The shoes and boots were of the highest quality, (RedWing, Carhart, and Conti) and were greatly appreciated by all. It was the biggest event we have had in terms of numbers of shoes, socks, and people.

Assisting me were my residents, Drs. Jason Nemitz and Ross Sherban, my medial assistant, Diana Millard, our Foot Care Nurse, Doreen Coggan, CNP, my daughter, Kristen Katcherian, and orthotists from Becker Orthopaedics, Douglas Goodnuff and Mark Vukov. We were all assisted by Mr. Dean Carpenter, MSN, FNP-BC, Family Nurse Practioner of the Neighborhood Service Organization who helped organize the process.

Read more:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Colt's Player and Local Orthopaedic Surgeon Help Fit Indianapolis Homeless with Shoes

Dozens of men at Wheeler Mission welcome Soles4Souls aid and volunteer doctors

By Will Higgins (from the Indiana Star)

Few human body parts are subjected to the harsh treatment that homeless people's feet endure, say the homeless and their advocates.
"Ingrown toenails, corns, the dampness, the cold," said Donnie Robinette, who lived on the streets during the 1980s. "You walk everywhere, and a lot of times the shoes are worn out by the time they get to you, and they don't fit, either."

On Tuesday, dozens of homeless men at Wheeler Mission lined up eagerly for free pairs of new shoes and check-ups by physicians who specialize in treating feet.
Red Wing donated the shoes, and the doctors were volunteers from Methodist Sports Medicine. Their collaboration was arranged by the Nashville, Tenn.-based charity Soles4Souls, which since 2005 has given away more than 5 million pairs of new or nearly new shoes to homeless people.

On Tuesday 109 pairs of shoes were given away. One man was turned away -- he wore size 15 double-wide and could not be accommodated.

Fungus-infected toenails were a common sight among the men, but the most distressed feet might have been William Vaughter's. His nails resembled talons; they were so long that despite their thickness, they were twisted and grew upward.
Vaughter, 73, said trimming them with conventional toenail clippers was impossible.
Far more bothersome than the nails, Vaughter said, are the sores on the bottoms of his feet. "It kills me to walk," he said, "like having a rock up in your feet." Vaughter said he walks about 10 miles a day.
He winced as the doctor poked his feet.

"I had a guy tell me they were bunions," Vaughter told the doctor, Jonathan Smerek. Smerek said they were calluses, and they should be dug out. Vaughter said he'd take care of it.

There was no time for such a procedure Tuesday. Smerek and one colleague, David Porter, worked for two hours, each physician averaging 28 patients an hour.

They urged the men to take better care of their feet, to wash them daily and keep their toenails clipped and their skin moisturized with lotion.

The men nodded, but they've been given that advice before. Podiatrists routinely come to the Wheeler to treat them. "If there's a common denominator (among the homeless), it's foot problems," said Gene Green, Wheeler's director.

Charles "Corky" Hall, 47, said he tries to keep his feet clean, "but sometimes that just doesn't work out. The problem is all the walking, just being on your feet all the time."

The men were barefoot as they waited for their new socks and shoes.

Some of the fitting was done by Antoine Bethea, a Colts defensive back who was on a goodwill mission. Bethea worked hands-on. He introduced himself to the men and then knelt on the floor and slipped the socks, then the shoes, over their feet. Then he laced the shoes and tied the laces.

"I've never seen a homeless person's feet that close-up," Bethea said afterward. "I've had messed-up feet, too.

"If your feet hurt, that makes your day that much longer."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We're partnering with Birkenstock!

Birkenstock USA, LP, a leader in comfort footwear, is proud to announce a partnership with Soles4Souls, the international shoe charity. From November 16, 2009 through January 5, 2010, participating Birkenstock retailers across the nation will be collecting donations, both monetary and of footwear, as part of their Give the Gift of Comfort Holiday Promotion.

Every 9 seconds, Soles4Souls gives away another pair of shoes to someone in need. The shoe charity has earned glowing endorsements from Hollywood stars and professional athletes, but the people that truly make the non-profit organization effective are those who clean out their closets to personally drop off their ‘gently worn’ shoes at a participating location..

"Soles4Souls makes such a difference in the lives of so many and has really helped us to ensure we stay true to our core values. Health and wellness is important not only for our feet and body but also for our environment. By helping to collect and distribute gently worn shoes we can continue to spread the message that healthy comfortable footwear leads to happiness and wellbeing." said Shelly Glasgow, Director of Product Development for Birkenstock.

Soles4Souls and Birkenstock will be collecting your gently worn footwear to ship to people in need, whether they are victims of natural disasters or subject to living in extreme poverty. It is estimated that Americans have 1.5 billion pairs of unused shoes lying in their closets. The charity can use each and every one of these pairs to make a tangible difference in someone's life.

“Birkenstock is a terrific partner and we are excited they are offering customers a great way to get involved in our mission,” said Wayne Elsey, Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls. “Their efforts will benefit many people in need and we are proud to have their support,” he said.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sole of Seattle

Seahawks' Nate Burleson and Deion Branch held an event in Bellevue on Monday November 16the at Lucky Strike Lanes. As hosts of this charity event to benefit their foundation, we were very excited to see them give their shoes to the Sole of Seattle. While the players did bowl with their teammates and fans, we are happy to report that they did have other shoes to wear on the lanes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Soles4souls Program Offers New Shoes for Wichita's Homeless

November 20th, 2009
BY Courtney Looney

The Wichita Eagle

Kevin Duckett sat in a chair in the hall of the Union Rescue Mission on Thursday night as Jason Tanner measured his foot. Size 13.

“Let’s see what we can round up for you,” Tanner said as he headed to a storage room filled with boxes of new shoes. “I’ve got some new socks for you, too.”

Duckett, originally from Pittsburgh, was among the first to benefit from a national program that provides shoes for those in need.

Naomi Shields of Advanced Orthopaedic Associates in Wichita has been working for over a year in partnership with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization that holds shoe drives around the country.

“A lot of homeless walk a lot . . . and a new pair of shoes make a huge difference,” Shields said.

The Soles4Souls program is known for its contributions during natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina.

Shields said the nonprofit, which is based out of Tennessee, is making an effort to provide shoes for those who need them all over the country.

With the help of the Union Rescue Mission, 2800 N. Hill-side, Shields and her team provided 150 pairs of shoes and 100 pairs of socks to those at the shelter on Thursday night.

Other people on Shields’ team also specialize in orthopedics and helped with the drive.

“They’re bringing sizing devices and my idea is that they will be actively fitting shoes,” Shields said. “Myself and my nurse will be doing foot exams, toenail clipping and possibly

referring them to get medical treatment if needed.”

Mary Wine, administrator at Advanced Orthopaedic Associates, said it is the first time the business has taken part in a project of this size.

“We’re not doing this for our business,” Wine said. “We’re doing it for people in need.”

With the help of Red Wing Shoes, the shoes were donated.

Rick Pierson of Capital Orthopedic Center and a member of Shields’ team, was able to get a company to donate the socks.

Union Rescue Mission is a men’s homeless shelter. Shields said she didn’t want people to think the project is discriminating against women. All that was donated were men’s shoes.

The plan is to make the event bigger next year if it is as successful as anticipated, she said.

“Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for things,” Shields said. “This has become a much bigger project than just collecting a couple of pairs of shoes.”

Out in the hall, Duckett finished lacing up a pair of brown work boots.

“Looks good,” Tanner said. “How’s it feel?”

“Good,” Duckett said.

“Stand up and see they feel,” Tanner said.

“They feel good,” Duckett said. “They feel good.”

Duckett said he wasn’t expecting a new pair of shoes when he walked into the Union Rescue Mission on Thursday.

“It caught me by surprise,” he said.

Contributing: Hurst Laviana of The Eagle

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Donors Use Shoes to Raise Awareness for Smoking Risks

Smokeout a shoe-in: Display makes a statement, then a donation

POSTED Nov. 19, 2009 12:10 a.m.

By Melissa Weinman

Article From the

Quitting can be hard, but several local organizations hope a special exhibit along Downey Boulevard today will help push people to stop smoking.

The street will be lined with 1,200 pairs of shoes — a pair for each of the 1,200 people who die each day from tobacco-related illness. The exhibit will start at the north entrance of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center and wind toward Jesse Jewell Parkway.

The shoe display is part of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, which serves as a reminder of the serious toll tobacco use takes on the population and urges people to quit.

Local organizations have collaborated to illustrate the 1,200 people who die each day from tobacco-related illnesses on Downey Boulevard in Gainesville.

"It really makes you think," said Joy Griffin, the American Cancer Society community manager for Hall County. "This is a day that we’re trying to reach tobacco users and say, today is the day to quit. This is your day, we want you to quit."

Volunteers will be along Downey Boulevard holding signs from sunrise to sunset to explain what the shoes represent.

The Lanier Georgia Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society, Northeast Georgia Health Systems and Keep Hall Beautiful joined with the American Cancer Society for today’s Great American Smokeout.

"It’s an amazing collaboration," Griffin said. "It has been a real joy to make an impact in our community to stop smoking."

Cindy Reed, the executive director of Keep Hall Beautiful, said the majority of the shoes in the display were collected by Keep Hall Beautiful to donate to Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based nonprofit that donates gently worn shoes to people across the world.

Another 500 pair of shoes were collected by Hall County students and will be donated to Soles4Souls after the Great American Smokeout.

Angie Caton, president of the Lanier Georgia Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society, challenged students at area middle schools to collect shoes for the Great American Smokeout to teach them to the dangers of tobacco use.

"Over half of the cancers we currently have could be almost totally prevented if we did not use tobacco," Caton said.

But the activity was a fun one, too.

"The homeroom that has the most shoes gets a pizza party," Caton said.

Last year was the first year the Hall County groups participated in the Great American Smokeout and Griffin said she hopes to attract even more attention this year.

"It’s raising awareness and that’s what we really want to do," Griffin said. "It’s just so important that our community gets that message.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Soles4Souls to Add Clothes (Tennesseean Article)

Soles4Souls to add clothes
Elsey's vision expands to include initiatives

By Andy Humbles • THE TENNESSEAN • November 18, 2009

5 years ago on Dec. 26, Old Hickory's Wayne Elsey had an idea that led to the establishment of Soles4Souls, the Donelson-based nonprofit projected to donate more than 6 million shoes worldwide by year's end.

"We don't want to celebrate a disaster.'' Elsey said, referring to the 2004 Asian tsunami. "We want to forge forward.''

So, the international footwear charity is making plans to expand its services to include clothes, Elsey said.

Clothes4Soles could be launched in the next 12 months, according to initial business plans.

The nonprofit will continue to donate and distribute shoes. It has set a goal of distributing 30 million pairs of shoes in the next five years — five times more than what has already gone out. Numerous celebrities have associated their names and helped with fundraising events for Soles4Souls.

Clothes4Soles would operate as a separate brand, distributing clothing that is donated in similar fashion to how shoes are given. Details still are being worked out, Elsey said.

Toys, perhaps even food will be considered for distribution in the future, Elsey said.

Soles4Souls is already a charity many celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson, Amy Grant, Kellie Pickler and Jeff Fisher have signed on to help.
Several new marketing concepts and initiatives already have started as the organization looks ahead.

• A trial recycling program is underway in Georgia that Soles4Souls hopes could spread to other areas of the country including Nashville. Georgia has more than 200 recycling centers that include shoe collection for Soles4Souls.
• A much more aggressive marketing approach includes Soles4Souls aiming to reach a younger demographic with a Facebook and Twitter presence. Web advertising spots have included celebrities.
• Locally this fall Soles4Souls launched its Step Up Nashville campaign encouraging businesses to place a collection box at their office or store or to organize an employee or customer-run fundraiser.
There was also a billboard campaign that emphasized a mobile giving program to guide people to finding a nearby supporter of Soles4Souls.

On the week of Thanksgiving, Soles4Souls will organize foot care treatments for men at 35-40 rescue missions around the country and facilitate a donation of socks and a pair of Red Wing shoes.

• A new micro-business model to help individuals and families in countries where there is extreme poverty to create their own business.

The micro-business model starts with Soles4Souls giving out 100 used shoes for free. Then it charges $1 a pair after that.

Those receiving shoes can then sell those shoes or trade them for food and materials. Countries Soles4Souls is utilizing the micro-business model in include Guatemala, Honduras, Togo, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Jordan and Georgia.

"This is in regions that are extremely poor, and people set up shops in huts and are raising their income level to $15-$20 per day instead of $2 or nothing,'' Elsey said. "What we're doing is instead of giving handouts, we helpthem to make money. It costs us about 85 cents per pair and it's an excellent way to take used shoes and made good business for everyone.''

Soles4Souls operates on new and gently used shoes donated by the public, new shoes from footwear companies and monetary gifts, donations, grants and corporate sponsorships.

Churches and businesses regularly have had collection boxes and organized collection times for Soles4Souls. The organization sets up special collection times as well, some that can collaborate with other big events.

Launching Soles4Souls

After Wayne Elsey saw a single shoe on the shoreline while watching a news report at home in Old Hickory on the tsunami in 2004, Elsey, Old Hickory dentist Nelson Wilson and his brother Paul Wilson helped raise 250,000 pairs of shoes partnering with area churches for those affected by the tsunami.

A similar effort was launched by Elsey and the Wilsons for Hurricane Katrina, which led to the establishment of Soles4Souls as a formal nonprofit organization in 2006.
Elsey eventually left his position as president of Kodiak-Terra USA Inc. to become the chief executive officer of Soles4Souls.

Nelson Wilson is still a Soles4Souls board member, and Paul Wilson is the president of the organization's world outreach division out of Alabama.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

15,000 Pairs of Shoes Donated in Honor of Darfur Victims

Several north Jersey communities came together Sunday to remember the more than 300,000 people slain in the Darfur region of Sudan.

A display of 15,000 shoes representing those killed was held at the Westfield Garden state Plaza. Led by a North Haledon pastor, the Rev. Ken Vander Wall, more than 30 churches and at least 20 schools contributed to the collection effort.

The shoes collected will be donated to our charity to be distributed world-wide.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Meet Our Friend Anne McDonald...

EDCO (Economic Development for Central Oregon) recently announced their 2009 Person of the Year, and it just happened to be our friend Anne McDonald. EDCO recognizes outstanding leadership, initiative and other contributions to the economy and community throughout the year.

Anne is the President of McDonald Placement Group. She was recognized for her community service as a volunteer for Soles4Souls (that's us!). We are so happy to have an outstanding advocate like Anne on our side, helping give back to her local community and to the global community. Anne was a shining star during our June 5th Barefoot Friday event in Portland.

We appreciate you, Anne! Congratulations on being recognized for the heart and 'sole' you put into your community.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Thanks from the Ivory Coast

We recently partnered with the people of The Hanna Project to send shoes to villages throughout Africa's Ivory Coast.

The Hanna Project was created in 2004 to specifically target the hard-to-reach areas of the world. Areas that most of the world knows very little about. Recognizing the dire conditions and desperate needs, THP invests time and patience in building relationships to gain right of entry into those areas.

Sabrina Yaw from Hanna sent us a emotional description of the area they visited and what a difference the shoe donation from Soles4Souls made.

“As you can see in the picture the people who live in the villages in which we visited in the Northwest corner of Cote d’Ivoire have very little in the way of material resources. These villagers often walk miles simply for water over treacherous and rocky terrain. Thanks to Soles for Souls generosity the shoes we distributed will help make their daily lives easier by making their journey a little less painful. As we traveled from village to village in February of this year one thing that was prevalent was the large number of people with preventable wounds on their feet. Due to their limited medical resources the simplest of cuts turn into massive life threatening infections. It is our belief that being able to put shoes on their feet will help reduce the number of critical incidents these natives experience. Thanks again for your wonderful generosity.”