Thursday, December 31, 2009

Soles4Souls, the shoe charity, sees bright future ahead

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Soles4Souls® Inc., the international shoe charity that gives away shoes to people in need, issued a report today that its 2009 donations increased by more than 20% over 2008 levels. Since the Asian tsunami five years ago, the charity has collected and distributed more than 6.4 million pairs of free shoes to people in need. Currently, Soles4Souls distributes one pair of shoes every nine seconds.

"We are humbled by and so thankful for the tremendous support of the general public, footwear professionals and our friends in the entertainment industry who have helped us reach this level of success," said Wayne Elsey, Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls. "Through the hard work and generosity of these partners, we are able to make a real difference in the lives of millions. We are excited to forge forward into 2010 with our goal of giving away one pair of free shoes each second," he said.

In addition to its remarkable growth during 2009, the charity announced recently that it has purchased its own building in the greater Nashville area. Elsey said this move is strategic to reduce overhead expenses while taking advantage of a favorable real estate market. Elsey also noted that the charity is in final discussions to build a state-of-the-art warehouse to further consolidate operations and efficiency.

Despite the rapid growth, Soles4Souls continues to operate on 2.5% administrative costs, making it among the most effective charities in the country. "Our strategy is tight controls and asset management to maximize the results of our rapidly growing charity -- impacting the world one pair at a time," Elsey said.

About Soles4Souls®

Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from the warehouses of footwear companies and the closets of people like you. The charity distributes these shoes free of charge to people in need, regardless of race, religion, class, or any other criteria. Since 2005, Soles4Souls has given away over 6 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes (currently donating one pair every 9 seconds.) The shoes have been distributed to people in over 125 countries, including Kenya, Thailand, Nepal and the United States. Soles4Souls has been featured in Runner's World, Ladies' Home Journal, National Geographic's Green Guide and The New York Times. It has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, BBC, CNN and thousands of regional news outlets across North America. Soles4Souls is a 501(c)(3) recognized by the IRS and donating parties are eligible for tax advantages. Anyone can join our cause, and we need your help. Visit for more information.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Caroline Panthers Name High School Soles4Souls Donor as Community Captain

Community Captain: Benjamin Mallouky

By April Smith
Carolina Panthers
Posted Dec 28, 2009

The Carolina Panthers have selected Benjamin Mallouky, a senior at Independence High School (Charlotte, NC), as a 2009 Carolina Panthers Community Captain.

The Carolina Panthers Community Captain program recognizes high school football student-athletes in North and South Carolina who excel in the classroom, in the community and on the field. The program is designed to recognize outstanding young leaders and to encourage their future development as role models while they continue their personal growth in college and in their professional careers.
In his second season as a long snapper and special teams player, Mallouky proved himself to his coaches and team, and was chosen to start for the Patriots football team. In addition, he earned the ultimate team compliment by being elected as a team captain. Mallouky’s skills have been recognized during summer football camps in which he has garnered top awards for his long snapping. Since then, he has been selected as a senior scholar athlete.

Despite his leadership role on the football field, Mallouky does not consider sports to be the only important thing in his life, “I believe academics are a big thing in every teenager’s life, athlete or not. I take pride in my grades and how well I do in school,” said Mallouky. He has achieved an unweighted 3.58 GPA and is ranked in the top 3% in his class. Mallouky, who has consistently taken on the challenge of enrolling in AP and honors courses, has been selected as a Junior Marshal, was nominated by Independence High School for the Belk Scholarship, an academic scholarship for Davidson College, and is also considering Princeton University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Principal Mark Bosco notes that Mallouky frequently works for the betterment of others and is an exceptional role model for his peers. In consideration of those less fortunate, Mallouky organized a school supply drive raised notebooks that benefited Classroom Central’s school supply collection and gathered more than 100 pairs of shoes for the Soles4Souls shoe charity that gives to those in need. Although Mallouky’s week is filled with school and practice, his work does not end on Friday nights. He regularly spends his Saturday mornings mentoring and coaching special needs individuals the game of golf at a local course in order to prepare them for the Special Olympics. "Giving back to the community is an important part in everyone's life. It teaches you to be grateful for what you have, and I love to give back to the community, especially children who do not have it as well as I do," said Mallouky.

From football cleats, to golf cleats to just regular tennis shoes, this Community Captain has filled many shoes. Mallouky’s accomplishments have been recognized by many, including Mint Hill Mayor, Ted Biggers, Jr., “While a student at Independence High School, Mr. Mallouky has excelled academically, and has served as an example for other students through his academic achievements, participation, leadership in school sports and community service,” said Biggers.

The Community Captain Class of 2009 recipients so far this season are Thomas Teal of Marlboro High School (Marlboro, SC), Dylan Bowman of West Brunswick High School (Shallotte, NC), Jonathan Bowie of Hendersonville High School (Hendersonville, NC), Darius Lipford of Hibriten High School (Lenoir, NC), Colin Summers of Needham Broughton High School (Raleigh, NC), Michael Harpe of Spartanburg High School (Spartanburg, SC), Joshua Jenkins of Enloe High School (Raleigh, NC), Samuel Keenan of Lancaster High School (Lancaster, SC) and Benjamin Mallouky of Independence High School (Charlotte, NC).

The 2009 Carolina Panthers Community Captain Class will be recognized during a special on-field ceremony at the Panthers home game versus the New Orleans Saints on January 3rd. Winners will receive an authentic Community Captain jersey and will have the opportunity to

Readers helped collect 400 pairs of shoes for charity, letter says

By Olivia Stein
GateHouse News Service
Posted Dec 29, 2009 @ 06:08 PM


Wellesley —In September 2009, I submitted a letter to the Townsman about a community service project I was organizing. It was to collect gently used shoes that were going to be donated to needy people across the globe.

People in the community were so generous with their donations to Soles4Souls the shoe charity that the total number of shoes donated and sent to the organization totaled more than 400 pairs of shoes! I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took the time to look through their closets and find shoes to pass along to a needy person.

I especially want to say a big THANK YOU to Elena Lennon, who owns Footstock shoe store in Wellesley. She generously contributed several pairs of brand-new shoes to the shoe drive. Footstock store was used as a drop-off location for the donations, which Elena then boxed up and shipped to the Soles4Souls organization. I could not have made this wonderful project a success without her kind and generous support. So thanks again for making the lives of those less fortunate a little brighter.

Olivia Stein
Cleaveland Road

Hope, Titans Players Raise Money for Soles4Souls at 'Night with the Secondary'

By Desiree Maxwell, Titans Online

Several Titans players joined teammate Chris Hope at his 2nd Annual "Night With the Secondary" Monday night at Shogun in Brentwood, Tenn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans Safety Chris Hope and several of his teammates spent Monday evening behind the hibachi grills of Shogun Japanese Steakhouse, “cooking” up a good time for a sold out crowd of over 160 guests. The 2nd Annual “Night with the Secondary” charity event raised several thousand dollars for shoe charity Soles4Souls.

Fans were invited to join Hope and numerous members of the Titans defense for the evening. Along with the four-course meal, they were able to bid on over 30 unique and priceless silent auction items while receiving autographs and posing for photos with players.

Hope’s teammates in attendance included Cortland Finnegan, Kyle VandenBosch, Michael Griffin, Vincent Fuller, Rod Hood, David Thornton, Jason McCourty, Ryan Mouton, Colin Allred, Stanford Keglar, Stephen Tulloch, Gerald McRath and Nick Schommer.

“This event was such a good time to host,” said Hope. “It really benefits a great charity in Soles4Souls and it is awesome for my teammates and I to interact with so many fans. I think a great time was had by all, and several of the guys came away with a new appreciation for cooking.”

Hope is the National Spokesperson for Soles4Souls and donates his time to the charity by helping distribute shoes to those in need in the Tennessee and South Carolina areas, as well as donating $100.00 for each tackle made during the season. To date, Hope’s personal support has raised over $30,000, equaling 15,000 pairs of new shoes for the non-profit.

Fans who want to support Hope and honor his dedication to the non-profit can help today by texting HOPE24 to 20222. A $5 donation will be made in Hope’s name to Soles4Souls for each text. This is an opportunity to “Step Up” and help Soles4Souls with their mission of the “Changing the World, One Pair at a Time”

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Forsyth residents recycle more than 4,000 pairs of shoes

Forsyth County residents were in the mood to recycle. During their November 21st event, "Recycle your electronics and shoes," hosted by Keep Forsyth County Beautiful, the residents brought more than 4,000 pairs of shoes to be donated to Soles4Souls the shoe charity. Residents were asked to bring their shoes to the event or take them to the more than 35 schools in the area who were accepting donations as well. Soles4Souls will distribute the donated shoes to people in need worldwide.

Thank You to Mrs. Murphy's 5th Grade Class!

Below is a post from Mrs. Murphy and her 5th grade class who did a Soles4Souls campaign where they collected shoes for the shoe charity. Soles4Souls is excited to see children at this age giving back to their community. Way to go, friends!!

Our school, Roswell North E.S., had a 'Soles 4 Souls' campaign to donate gently used or new shoes for those in need in our community. I challenged my class to bring fifty (50) pair in return for a special day of their choosing. They far surpassed my challenge. When this picture was taken, they had brought 133 pairs. By the end of the campaign, they brought in a total of 153 pairs of shoes! I am proud of my class all the time because they are a wonderful group of children, but I am especially proud of them for taking on such a worthy cause to help those less fortunate.

Way to go Mrs. Murphy's 5th Grade Class!

Jan Murphy

5th Grade

Roswell North E.S.

Soles4Souls Puts Shoes on the Feet of Kenyan Well Diggers

Pictured below are the shoes that a group of well diggers in Kenya were wearing before Soles4Souls the shoe charity gave them proper footwear. One young gentleman had fashioned shoes out of old tires. These men work hard to bring fresh water to villages in their area, but without the right footwear their feet would be cut and bruised. They were overwhelmed with the invaluable gift of shoes and thankful that their job would get a little bit easier.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Raymond C. Cramer Elementary Students Collect "Soles 4 Souls"

Raymond C. Cramer Elementary (RCCE) students in Ms. Katherine Byrne and Ms. Jennifer Gati's classes collected over 500 pairs of shoes for the Soles 4 Souls program sponsored locally by Mandee's Shoes in Middletown. According to statistics, approximately 1.5 pairs of shoes lie idle in American closets and more than 300 million children around the world are without shoes. Soles 4 Souls gives away a pair of shoes every 13 seconds.
The RCCE students collected the most shoes ever gathered by a participating group in the history of the local Soles 4 Souls program. Not only did they collect the shoes, but the students were also able to use their math skills when they sorted, counted and boxed all the shoes that were collected.
Orange-Ulster BOCES is extremely proud of the generosity and dedication of students and staff in these classes and their accomplishment in helping those who are less fortunate than they.

Soles4Souls Distributes Shoes to Kids in 7th Ward New Orleans

Below is a letter from our partners in New Orleans who recently distributed shoes to students at inner-city Tureaud Elementary school in the 7th Ward. There, 88% of the student body are on the free lunch program. For more information about Soles4Souls shoe charity please visit us online,, and facebook.

Dear Friends at Soles4Souls,
We are tremendously thankful for the shoes you allowed us to take to New Orleans.
Thank you for the relationship we have established and that you trust us in distributing your name and shoes. We value that highly.

The shoes that we received from you were distributed on Monday, March 31, 2009 at A.P. Tureaud Elementary (Grades Pre-K to 6) in New Orleans, LA. This school is an inner-city school in the 7th Ward of New Orleans. 88% of the student body eat free lunch.
The principal and staff of the school stated that "This was big deal for the students."
While sizing the students we found that many of them did not have socks and some of them who did had huge holes in them.
As one student exited we overheard them say that this helped them to get "church" shoes. Another stated that they would have shoes to wear for graduation.
While walking on the sidewalk another little girl called out to her mother, who was also walking outside the fence..."Mom, I got new shoes!"
As you can see, the impact of this shoe distribution was astronomical.

We have built a relationship with this school over the past few years and we thank you for supplying shoes to help boost the children's morale. It was simply amazing.

Jennifer Hart
Kelly McDuffie

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Soles4Souls distributes shoes to Afghan children

Below are pictures from a recent distribution in Khowst Province, Afghanistan. More than 50 children that live in the surrounding villages bordering Pakinstan were provided with free footwear from Soles4Souls the shoe charity. The US military in the area help us distribute these shoes. You can find out more about our organization at

She puts heart and sole into helping others

Catherine Thriveni, 16, a student at North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, held a shoe drive for the nonprofit organization Soles4Souls. Thriveni, of Salisbury, has collected 112 pairs of new or gently used shoes from her classmates. Photo by

Shavonne Potts/Salisbury Post By Shavonne Potts

Catherine Thriveni recently acquired more than 100 pairs of shoes. In a few weeks she's giving them all away.

Thriveni, 16, began collecting shoes from her classmates to start her own shoe drive for Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization based in Tennessee that receives new or gently used shoes and gives them to people who need the footwear.

"You don't have to pay any money. We'll take shoes you don't use anymore and give to people who can use them," she said.

Thriveni is a junior at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham. The school is a public, residential high school where students study specialized curriculum emphasizing science and math.

She spoke with a school administrator who sent an e-mail to students and faculty about Thriveni's drive. She set up collection boxes in each residence hall. She received a lot of responses.

"School is busy and for students, it's nice to take a break and think about others," Thriveni said.

Her classmates and others have been supportive of her efforts to receive as many pairs of shoes as she can.

"Everyone has been supportive. That's the most rewarding part. One of my friends donated 11 pairs of shoes," she said.

Everyone is so willing to help. Many of her donations have been from a few people giving a lot.

Her brother, Tom, 21, also donated some of his shoes.

Thriveni began collecting shoes around Thanksgiving and has collected 112 pairs.

She chose this time of the year because students would have time to return home and solicit donations from other friends and family.

Thriveni also created a Facebook page for the drive and solicited donations on the social networking site.

She was familiar with the organization prior to deciding to have her own drive. A donation drive had been done at Sacred Heart where she attended.

"We all want to be active and give back. We just need the opportunity," she said.

Community service is something Thriveni is passionate about. She's volunteered with the American Red Cross for two years. Also with CODA, Care of the Durham Area, a school club/program where students volunteer at local shelters. Thriveni will go to Guatemala for a month for a summer with Global Public Service Academies, a program for juniors and seniors who have interest in health careers. While in Guatemala she will shadow phyisicans, conduct health screenings.

Thriveni wants to become a pediatrician.

"It gives me a good feeling to help others," she said.

It's important for Thriveni to take a break from the hustle and bustle of school and "focus on really important things," she said.

Thriveni hopes to get more shoes for this drive before its time to ship the shoes to the nearest warehouse, in Alabama, for distribution.

Her father, Pius, and mother, Nice, have been so supportive, Thriveni said.

Once all of the shoes have been collected her parents will pay to have them shipped.

She's not done. Thriveni plans to conduct another drive next year and collect even more shoes.

"When you think about it, it's such a simple thing with such huge benefits and such huge rewards," she said.

For more information about the Soles4Souls organization, visit www. soles4souls. org.

To contribute to Catherine Thriveni's shoe drive, contact her at or 704-645-0757.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Greetings From South Africa

Below is a letter from the ASHE Foundation who recently took a trip to South Africa to distribute more than 3,000 pairs of shoes donated by Soles4Souls to orphaned children. Stories like these come in every day from people all over the world who are helped through Soles4Souls. You can find out more about our organization at

Greetings Soles4Souls Team,

On August 6th thru August 13th, The ASHE Foundation traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa and distributed over 3000 pairs of shoes to orphaned children in the city of Limpopo and Soweto, South Africa. The 1611 pairs of shoes that were donated by Souls 4 Sole were distributed to orphaned children in the village of Ga-Dikgale, Limpopo.

CEO Dion Fearon, myself and International singer and songwriter Kenny Lattimore washed the feet and distributed shoes to orphaned children attending the drop in centers in the villages of Limpopo, South Africa. Over 2000 orphaned children who are being raised by their older siblings (usually under the age of 17) attend these drop in centers to receive food and counseling. The children have lost their parents from the devastating effects of AIDS and many of the female siblings have been raped by local male villagers once the parents have passed. We were able wash the feet of many of the children and place new shoes donated by Soles 4 Souls on their feet. They were thrilled to have their feet washed and receive a new pair of shoes.

Thank you for your generous donation of shoes that helped us change the lives of many children two feet at a time. We will be on another life changing trip to Africa in November and would love to take more donated shoes by S4S.


Antina Campbell
The ASHÉ Foundation

Monday, December 21, 2009

Watsonville store hosts Soles4Souls shoe drive

From Santa Cruz Sentinel
By Jory John

WATSONVILLE -- Watsonville retail store Queen's Shoes and More has started its second annual shoe drive to benefit Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization dedicated to collecting shoes and distributing them to people in need.

Last year, Queen's Shoes & More gathered more than 150 pairs of shoes, which they sent to Soles4Souls for repairs and distribution. The shoe drive, which commenced Dec. 1, runs until the end of this month.

Sindy Hernandez, co-owner of Queen's Shoes & More, said that the goal is to collect as many pairs of shoes as possible for disadvantaged families. Hernandez originally heard about Soles4Souls on television.

"I thought, what better way to give back," Hernandez said. "It feels good giving shoes to people who don't have anything."

Hernandez said that memories of her childhood contribute to her awareness of how important a good pair of shoes can be.

"I grew up in Mexico, being very poor," she said. "We only got new shoes once a year. We wore our shoes until our toes were coming out of them. Even though I have had success, I haven't forgotten about that."

Hernandez, who started Queen's Shoes & More with her husband Carlos Cornejo, said that for every pair of shoes donated, patrons receive a 10-percent discount at the store. For every pair sold during the month of December, Queen's Shoes & More will donate a new pair of shoes to Soles4Souls.

Overall, Hernandez said that the 2009 shoe drive is going well, but that she expects more donations.

"So far, we have a box and a half full of shoes. Everybody has shoes in their closet that they don't use. It's a good way to give back," she said.

David Graben, executive vice president of Nashville, Tenn.-based Souls4Soles, said that without people like Sindy Hernandez, Soles4Souls couldn't have thrived.

"They are the backbone of what we do," he said.

Founded in 2004 in the aftermath of the tsunami in Southeast Asia, Soles4Souls has given away more than 5 million pairs of shoes in more than 125 countries.

Graben said that there are 300 million people in the world without shoes and that Americans have about 1.5 billion pairs of extra shoes in their closets.

"Think about giving what shoes you can," Graben said. "Or, consider running your own shoe drive."

Queen's Shoes & More is at 1939 Main St. in Watsonville in the Crossroads Shopping Center. For information about Soles4Souls, visit

Teen Collects More than 250 Pairs of Shoes

From My Central Jersey
By Staff

FANWOOD — For his bar mitzvah project, Temple Sholom (Fanwood/Scotch Plains) religious school student Matthew Goetz chose to collect shoes for Soles4Souls, a charity that collects and distributes new and gently used shoes to those in need around the world. Throughout the month of October, Matthew collected more than 250 pairs of shoes from his family, friends, classmates and neighbors, using email, Facebook, word-of-mouth and the Temple newsletter to spread the word about his project.

As part of becoming a bar or bat mitzvah (one who is responsible for the commandments of Judaism), students at Temple Sholom are required to create a mitzvah project to show that they realize their personal responsibility to make the world a better place. Goetz chose Soles4Souls because he wanted to support an organization that helped the environment through recycling while helping people in need at the same time.

"It makes me feel good that I gave back to the community and that I helped the environment," said the 13-year-old who attends Park Middle School in Scotch Plains. "It was really exciting when the shoes I collected started filling up my basement because I know those shoes are going to help people who really need them."

Soles4Souls was conceived by Wayne Elsey, then a footwear industry executive, who wanted to contribute to the relief effort in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that struck Southeast Asia. Eisley and other industry executives sent more than 125,000 pairs of shoes to the region. A year later, when Hurricane Katrina struck, he collected more than 1 million pairs of shoes for the affected Gulf communities. The following year, Eisley founded Soles4Souls. To date, the charity has distributed more than 5 million pairs of shoes worldwide. For more information, visit

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Girl Gives Gift of Shoes to 96 Needy Children

By Ankita Rao

Published: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 9:54 p.m.
Most gifts are opened once, wrapping paper and bows abandoned, clothes and toys displayed proudly to party guests.

But this November, 9-year-old Sophia Gravenstein's friends came with a different kind of gift - a gift that would be opened by 96 children around the world.

Sophia was watching Good Morning America a couple of months before her birthday when she saw a story about Soles4Souls - an organization that donates shoes to children in the U.S. and around the world.

The shoes are not just to protect feet from cuts and infection.

They can also be a requirement for going to school, getting a job or replacing losses after a disaster.

Sophia decided that for her birthday party in November, her friends could help her support the effort by bringing slightly used or new shoes instead of gifts.

"There's a lot of activities that involve shoes that are fun, and it would be helping people at the same time," she said.

Sophia created invitations on the computer with images from the Soles4Souls Web site. She said it took her a week to make with the corrections and pictures.

Her mother, DeAnn Gravenstein, spoke to the organization and got a DVD to show the party guests who the shoes have helped in the past.

"It gives me goose bumps, I'm very proud," DeAnn said.

With 15 friends coming, Sophia and her parents set out a cardboard box, expecting about 20 pairs of shoes.

Sophia's father, Ditricht Gravenstein, organized a scavenger hunt for shoelaces. The girls decorated the laces with fabric markers and their own designs.

Ditricht said the family discusses being grateful and giving to those who need a helping hand. But he was still surprised when he heard Sophia's plan for her birthday.

"Kids can be a bit self-centered, but she was thrilled," Ditricht said. "She was always somebody who said she would do things herself."

By the end of the party, they needed an extra cardboard box. Ninety-six pairs of shoes were waiting to be shipped to Souls4Soles.

"It felt good to think about other people besides yourself," Sophia said.

Her idea didn't stop with blowing out her candles. Sophia's friends were inspired to have their own parties surrounding a cause.

Her neighbor, Annika Sawyer, will collect toys for an orphanage that her grandparents support. Another classmate is asking friends to bring animal feed for abused animals.

"The notion that you can have a party and fun around a charitable activity has to resonate," Ditricht said.

As for the 96 shoes, Sophia can choose where they will go to through Souls4Souls.

Her mother said she was thinking about Panama since a family friend came from the Latin American country. But Sophia said she isn't sure yet.

"Just the country needing the most shoes," she said.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Soles4Souls to buy headquarters

Nashville Business Journal

Soles4Souls Inc., which donates millions of shoes a year to children around the world, has signed a contract to purchase a 13,500-square-foot headquarters building at 319 Martingale Road in Old Hickory.

"We are so excited to be moving into a permanent home here in Middle Tennessee," Wayne Elsey, founder and CEO, said in a news release. "For five years we have been renting various spaces and constantly dealing with the challenges of managing someone else's property. Today, however, we can say with pride that we have established firm roots in Nashville," he said.

Elsey established the charity after seeing the effects of the Asian tsunami in December 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After each tragedy, he marshalled his contacts in the footwear industry in order to send donations — a quarter million shoes to Southeast Asian and more than a million to the Gulf Coast. He founded Soles4Souls to build on those efforts.

Elsey said the charity, which employs 40 people, plans to open international chapters and build "a state-of-the-art warehouse" as it continues to grow. Locations are still being considered for the warehouse, executive vice president David Graben said.

The new headquarter building will allow the charity to move its Nashville holding facility and its corporate offices under the same roof. The company also has holding facilities in Las Vegas and Sheldon, Iowa, and well as a processing facility in Roanoke, Ala., from which donations are shipped worldwide.

Soles4Souls collects footwear from show companies as well as from the closets of donors. It has given away more than 6 million pairs of shoes since 2005. Executive vice president David Graben ssaid the charity estimates that 300 million children worldwide lack a pair of shoes, while 1.2 billion shoes sit in American closets. Visit for information about donating

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Results in on "Think Kindess" Manitowoc Challenge

Herald Times Reporter • December 14, 2009

Totals are in from the recent “Think Kindness” challenge at nine Manitowoc-area elementary schools.

Students documented 27,355 acts of kindness total over 15 days during October and November, according to a release.

Magee Elementary School in Two Rivers came out on top among the schools, with 5,083 acts of kindness, the release said.

The top classroom total came from St. Peter the Fisherman School in Two Rivers, where one class documented 1,105 kind acts.

Each school documented at least 1,625 acts of kindness, the release said.

Program founder Brian Williams travels to schools around the country, challenging each school he visits to commit and document 5,000 acts of kindness in the 15 days.

Williams’ program is partnered with Soles4Souls, a national organization that collects and distributes shoes around the world to those who need them. Part of the kindness challenge at the schools is for students to collect shoes, as well.

Students collected 2,080 pairs of shoes through their schools and a shoe drive, which have been shipped to Soles4Souls.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Steppin’ Birkenstock Shoes in Princeton announces shoe drive

By: Liz Riegel

Steppin’ Birkenstock Shoes announced it is hosting a shoe drive to benefit Soles4Souls Inc., the international footwear charity that delivers shoes to needy people around the world.

During the shoe drive, Steppin’ Birkenstock Shoes will be offering a $5 giftcard for every pair donated (not to exceed 5 pairs) to all customers who bring in gently worn pairs of shoes toward the effort. The shoe drive will end on Dec. 24, 2009. Steppin’ Birkenstock Shoes is located at 12 Chambers Street Princeton, NJ 08542.

In addition, Steppin’ Birkenstock is offering a 10 percent discount on all online sales from now until Dec. 24, 2009, as part of the campaign.

For more information on how you can get involved with this shoe drive and take advantage of the discount toward a new pair of shoes, contact Jimmy Jimenez at (609)921-8411. You can also visit their website at

People and companies interested in donating or learning more about Soles4Souls can visit

Friday, December 11, 2009

Soles4Souls to be Featured on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"

December 8, 2009) Soles4Souls, the shoe charity dedicated to giving shoes to people in need, will be featured prominently on an upcoming episode of ABC’s hit television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. In the episode, the charity is helping a devoted mom who is trying to provide for her family by giving back to her community with the gift of shoes.

Delores Powell, a Jamaican immigrant who moved to United States in search of the American dream, has struggled to make ends meet. After becoming a US citizen, she and her four children moved to Buffalo, NY in 2002 in search of affordable housing. After a year of living in an apartment, Dolores found what she believed was the jackpot: a six bedroom “fixer upper.” The seller failed to mention the home was on the city’s demolition list and as a result, Delores had to beg the city for leniency. They agreed, and she has spent the last five and half years repairing it, but the home is still unlivable.

Despite all of the trials, Delores still finds time to volunteer in her community through a local grassroots non-profit called “PUSH Buffalo,” that works to rebuild and improve the West Side of Buffalo.

“We are honored to be a part of such a unique and inspirational story,” said Wayne Elsey, Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls. “To be able to share in the show’s message of hope and see a community touched by a woman who needed help herself is a true testament to how one person can make a difference.”

We will update you soon on the air date that is coming soon. Thanks for helping us change the world one pair at a time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

An Inspiring Story About Paying it Foward

Pay it forward, then wait for the miracle

By Jay Turner
Citizen Staff
(Taken from the Canton Citizen)

As longtime Computershare employee Maureen Palermo stood in a conference room at the company’s Canton offices on a recent Friday afternoon, surrounded by hundreds of stuffed animals, coloring books and other small children’s toys, she was reminded of the boxes that sat for months, almost frozen in time, in her late daughter’s room.

This photo of Daniel, Lisa and Mark Palermo was taken a few years ago. Daniel passed away in August 2007 and Lisa died 14 months later. Mark is currently in desperate need of a double lung transplant
Those boxes, filled with old Beanie Babies and other stuffed animals and marked “Project Smile,” had been all Lisa’s idea, recalls her mother. Even in her last year of life, when she was in and out of the hospital and sick more often than she was well, she never stopped thinking of others or giving of herself — not even when she was the one most in need of a gift.

In Lisa’s case, that gift was a new set of healthy lungs, the same gift that her older brother Daniel could have used and one that her eldest brother Mark now desperately needs. For all three had been born with cystic fibrosis — an inherited disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive tract — and yet they all lived “pretty normal lives” until reaching their teens, when the disease took hold and refused to let go.

The Palermos lost Daniel in August 2007, just two months after he graduated from Medfield High School, where he had thrived as a member of the school’s drama club. Fourteen months later, they said goodbye to their only daughter, an Irish step dancer with a heart of gold, who fell victim to a blood infection just one day after being told that lungs had become available.

Now Mark, a former high school athlete who should be a senior at UMass Amherst, is at home in Medfield instead, struggling to breathe and completely deaf from the medications he now takes, and waiting for a double lung transplant from the Cleveland Clinic after being added to the list this past August.

“Basically, when it takes a hold of them they deteriorate very quickly,” explained Maureen, who has since learned as much as humanly possible about CF and remains active in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, including leading a team of walkers every May for the past 20 years.

Maureen said Lisa also enjoyed walking before she grew too sick to do so, and she even formed her own team, Lisa’s Sunshine Squad, and designed her own “bright yellow and pink t-shirts” for all her teammates to wear.


Maureen admits that she had no idea what Project Smile was when Lisa first began pillaging her room for stuff to share with children in need. Then again, Lisa had always been a self-starter when it came to helping others — twice she had donated her hair to Locks of Love, and she even got Daniel and some of their cousins to join in the effort as well.

Project Smile, it turns out, is a Hopedale-based nonprofit organization that “donates various children’s items to police and fire departments for police officers, firefighters and paramedics to give to children involved in traumatic situations.”

So when Maureen began brainstorming different causes that her department at Computershare could contribute to this holiday season, she immediately thought of those boxes that Lisa had left behind in her room.

A year ago, just a month after Lisa’s passing, Maureen said she and her coworkers had somehow managed to organize a major fundraising effort — complete with multiple bake sales and raffles — and ended up collecting more than $2,400 to donate to various causes, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

But that turned out to be more work than anyone had expected, and with the economy still sputtering this year, Maureen figured she could “still do something charity-wise,” but in a way that did not require people to open up their wallets or checkbooks.

She eventually settled on two groups: Project Smile and a Nashville-based shoe charity called Soles4Souls, which collects and distributes shoes all over the world to people in need. Meanwhile, around the same time, a nearby department decided to take up a collection for the Canton Food Pantry, and before long employees from all over the building began chipping in to all three causes.

“I actually ended up with a whole lot more than I ever expected,” said Maureen, who recently stopped taking collections after filling several boxes with both toys and shoes.

And it didn’t require all that much effort on her part, other than sending a few emails and putting in a couple of extra hours to sort through the donation piles. She said she planned on taking what couldn’t be used by either Project Smile or Soles4Soles to a local Goodwill, and this past week her staff oversaw a bake sale hoping to raise enough money to ship the donated shoes to Tennessee.

“A lot of times people are willing to participate [in charity efforts], but they don’t necessarily want to be the ones in charge,” said Maureen, who described her staff of 13 as leaders when it comes to giving and “very, very good for anything.”

She said there was even one occasion, shortly after Lisa passed away, that her coworkers surprised her with an “envelope full of cash” for her to give to the CF Foundation.

“They’re a good group,” she said of her coworkers, “and they’re all pretty in touch with the fact that there’s a lot of need out there.”


If Maureen ever decided to take a year off from charity work, no one would question her, not even for a second.

But just like Lisa when she was sick, Maureen isn’t looking for any excuses; she’s looking to do what she can to help others. So there she was on a Friday afternoon, sifting through piles of stuffed animals and thinking of her own kids when they were young and healthy and strong.

She said there are still times, even now, when she wonders how she and her husband, Charles, could have had “three out of three,” despite the fact that each child had just a 25 percent chance of being born with the disease.

But even after Daniel’s diagnosis, then Mark’s, then Lisa’s, she remembers the doctors telling her not to worry too much, as the gene that causes CF had recently been identified. “People thought a cure was coming,” she said, as if making sure to phrase it in the past tense.

Yet she certainly hasn’t abandoned all hope — not yet — and neither has Mark, who she said has “every intention of returning to UMass” one day to resume his mechanical engineering studies and his life as he once knew it.

She also continues to believe in the power of giving, which is why she chooses to give now and ask questions later.

“What was that movie?” she asked. “Pay it Forward? It’s kind of that same mentality.”

She has seen it work, too, like when Boston Globe columnist and Canton resident Beverly Beckham featured the Palermos in a recent column, and days later a local pilot reached out offering to fly Mark and his parents, free of charge, to the Cleveland Clinic as soon as a transplant became available. He told them to call as soon as they heard anything, and he would be at the airport within an hour, ready to go.

It has now been three months and the family is still waiting for a miracle. But as Maureen was quick to point out, there are plenty of reasons to remain hopeful, including the fact that an anonymous pilot — a man who has absolutely nothing to gain — made an incredibly generous offer back in September to a family he’d never met.

And three months later, that offer still stands.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mandee Collects $20,000 for Soles4Souls in Month of November

NEW YORK, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Mandee is proud to announce they have already raised over $20,000 in just one month as the exclusive partner this holiday season for Soles4Souls, the international shoe charity dedicated to providing shoes to people in need. From November 4,( )2009 through December 24, 2009, all 120 Mandee stores will be collecting donations of gently worn shoes, in addition to collecting a $1 donation upon check out both in-stores and online at from any customer that chooses to provide further support to Soles4Souls. As a thank you for participation, each customer that donates will receive a 20% off discount coupon towards an item of their choice.

Mandee is using multiple platforms including social media, in-store promotions, and direct mailings to alert their customer base and build excitement with additional shopping incentives. Suntek Transport will be generously shipping all footwear collected to the Soles4Souls headquarters free of charge. Soles4Souls has given away more than 5.5 million pairs of new and gently worn pairs of shoes to date.

"Mandee has a long commitment to giving back to people who live in the communities where we do business," says Ken Mandelbaum, Chairman and CEO of Big M Inc., the operating company of Mandee. "We are pleased to be partnering with Soles4Souls in furthering that effort."

"Mandee is a terrific partner and we are excited they are offering customers a fun 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.

It is estimated that Americans have 1.5 billion pairs of unused shoes lying in their closets. Soles4Souls can use each and every one of these pairs to make a tangible difference in someone's life.

People and companies interested in donating can visit Soles4Souls's website at

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It's Christmas Time...Which Means Parades!

This weekend, the staff of Soles4Souls decided to take a little visit to Whoville and invite the Grinch back with us. Complete with crazy hair and striped stockings...Cindy Lou Who even made a special guest appearance. Check out the photos below!

Monday, December 07, 2009 gets the scoop on Soles4Souls

Overachievers (from

As always, Footwear News’ Achievement Awards, held on Dec. 2 at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York, proved to be fertile ground for gabbing and gossip. Grammy Award-winning singer Ashanti, who introduced Designer of the Year Giuseppe Zanotti, took some time out from the evening to dish about her love for the shoe star. “I’ve been infatuated with Giuseppe since my first album. I’m so proud of him,” said the singer, who was wearing a dress by Los Angeles line Carmelita. The songstress, who is working on a new album, also recently inked a production deal and is busy at work producing a TV series. “I’m behind the scenes on this one. I might pop up [on the show] here and there, like Diddy or Trump, but I’m mostly behind the scenes,” she joked. Meanwhile, Zanotti and Alexandre Birman chatted in Italian, sharing their love for both Brazil and Italy and promising to meet up in Milan in the coming season. Birman, this year’s recipient of the Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent Award, told Insider he might some day consider living in New York with his new bride, Johanna. Zanotti himself was in a contemplative mood, reminiscing about his first FNAA win nine years ago — and how quickly the time has passed. “I’m not a young designer anymore. I’m old,” he said, with a bit of Zanotti sparkle. “But if you have creativity in you, it’s always there.” Tabitha Simmons, who claimed she was wearing “George’s dress” (as in Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, who was at her table), said she was headed straight for the airport from the event. “I’m flying to Venice tonight to check on the fall collection at the factory. I told George I hope she doesn’t need this dress back before Friday!” Soles4Souls founder Wayne Elsey said over cocktails that his organization is about to get some major exposure this January, when it’s featured on an episode of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Also in January, Elsey said, Clothes4Souls will make its debut, though he was mum on specific details. And in April (busy year!), Soles4Souls will unveil a new headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., for the growing organization. “It’s going to be a great year,” Elsey said.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Arkansas State to Collect Shoes at Final Game


WKU's 13 seniors and their families will be recognized prior to kickoff, and fans are encouraged to wear "red" in support of the Hilltoppers. Football tickets may be purchased at any time via or by calling 1-800-5 BIG RED. The ticket windows at Houchens Industries - L.T. Smith Stadium will open at 2:00 p.m.
WKU's Student Athletic Advisory Committee working in conjunction with Soles4Souls, will have collection areas for anyone wishing to donate shoes to be sent to underdeveloped countries throughout the world.

Fans may begin tailgating at 2:00 p.m., the time in which the Avenue of Champions closes to all traffic. Opening at 3:00 p.m. on South Lawn is Topper Town, which features inflatables, a kids play area and activities for children of all ages.

The Topper Walk, featuring the entire football team's walk down the Avenue of Champions from the Kentucky Museum to Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, begins at 3:40 p.m. The players will distribute 100 T-shirts to fans during the walk.

WKU cheerleaders will throw T-shirts into the stands following each Hilltopper touchdown. The pre-game show features fireworks and the Big Red Marching Band.

For a map of all tailgating and parking areas, along with post-game traffic flow details, please see the "2009 Hilltopper Football Fan Guide" on

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Appleton Library Program Aids Soles4Souls

(From the Post-Crescent)

APPLETON, WI— The Appleton Public Library will host a free children's program from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Thursday in the library's Children's Program Room.

Bring a pair of new or gently worn shoes to donate to the organization Soles4Souls. The story time will feature the book "New Old Shoes" by Charlotte Blessing, followed by a craft activity making cards for those serving overseas.
The book celebrates the journey of a pair of donated shoes as they make their way around the world.

The program is free, and families are welcome.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Maryland Church Joins Effort to Cover Feet

November 29, 2009

HAGERSTOWN — According to Shoes4Unity, more than 1.5 billion pairs of shoes lie idle in American closets, while more than 300 million children around the world go without shoes.

A small Washington County-based congregation is trying to make a dent in those big numbers by collecting shoes to donate to those in need.

“Everybody has excess,” said John Gamble, 66, of Greencastle, Pa. Gamble and his wife donated three pairs of shoes Sunday as he attended a service at Unity of Hagerstown at the Civil Air Patrol building behind Nick’s Airport Inn, north of Hagerstown.

Unity of Hagerstown is part of the Association of Unity Churches, which is partnering with the nonprofit Soles4Souls in the Shoes4Unity shoe drive, said Sandy Boyer, a teacher and leader with the local congregation.

The Association of Unity Churches’ goal is to collect and distribute 525,600 pairs of shoes to people in need in 2010, according to project literature. That would equal distributing one pair of shoes per minute.

Ann Sears, 67, of Waynesboro, Pa., said she collected shoes ahead of time by telling friends what the church was doing.

“I’m really excited about the whole thing,” said Sears, who brought in seven pairs of shoes, including high heels and sneakers.

Part of the effort was to go shoeless for the day to experience what that’s like, Boyer said.

Several congregation members brought donated shoes in bags so they could wear the shoes on their feet, since the tile floor was cold.

Boyer and her husband, Doug Lundgren of Brunswick, Md., went barefoot just before services started.

Cathy Hansen, 52, of Fayetteville, Pa., said she would try going shoeless. She brought a pair of gently used brown loafers that she hadn’t been wearing.

San Rogers, 68, of Hagerstown, was donating three pairs of shoes.

Unity of Hagerstown has a congregation of about 17 to 20 people from the Tri-State area, Boyer said.

“For a small group, I think we are very service-oriented,” said Boyer, who donated a pair of burgundy pumps to the shoe drive.

Anyone who wants to donate new or gently used shoes to the drive may drop them off at the church on Sundays between 10:30 a.m. and noon.