Monday, December 21, 2009

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

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