Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Photo of the Week

On July 7th, a Soles4Souls team of 14 volunteers and staff traveled to Port-au-Prince Haiti to distribute shoes to almost 2,000 children and adults living in extremely difficult circumstances since the earthquake in January. When time allowed, we washed the children's feet as a way to say "we care about you."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Highlights from Barefoot Open House

We had a great turnout at our Barefoot Open House this week! We're thankful for all of our partners and supporters who took time to stop by and check out our new place. Here are a few photos from the event.

Trevett McCandliss from Footwear Plus Magazine with Soles4Souls employees Elizabeth and Isabelle. Trevett designed the shoe that was featured on the cover of our Five Year Anniversary Publication.

Bethani Hemphill adds another pin to our map of shoe distribution locations. She and Shaun Daugherty recently returned from a distribution trip in American Samoa.

Founder, Wayne Elsey entertains our partners from Cole Haan 

Thanks to Barefoot Wine for sponsoring the event and thanks to everyone who stopped by to see our new headquarters!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Letters from Haiti

Dear friends,
     The goal of my letter is to thank you for the shoes that you brought for us.
     I want to say thank you for the shoes that you brought for us and for helping measure us for the shoes. The shoes are magnificent, marvelous, and we are proud of you. You gave us shoes and you brought them all the way here. It is for that, that we wish to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you again for all you have done. I cannot find the words I must use to thank you.
   I hope you have a good year.
                             Your friend,

Subject: A thank you
From: Samuel
To: My friends

Very dear friends,
     Hello. Today I write you just to thank you for your good deeds toward me.
     My friends, I thank you a lot for having thought of me; even if I spend all year thanking you, it would not be sufficient to repay you. So I can only say thank you and thank you.
     And thanks be to God. That is all.

These are just a couple of the letters we received. The children were so grateful for the shoes and our lives were forever impacted by their stories, smiles, and love.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Poverty, Homelessness, & Hope - A Recap from Our Haiti Distribution Trip

     Every day I receive questions about the Soles4Souls distribution trips and impact they have on my life. The emotions from each trip are different, personal, and, at times, hard to express.

     My job as Experiential Manager at Soles4Souls is to plan distribution trips all over the world for volunteers to join our team and help those in need. I have traveled on numerous mission/humanitarian trips and anyone that has traveled on a mission trip understands the emotional impact each trip has on your life. My job is to allow others to experience a truly indescribable experience. It is something that one has to see first-hand to ultimately understand the feelings and emotions.

      As we flew back from Haiti on Sunday, I listened to our volunteers share their experiences with others on our plane. I started to cry. All 14 individuals on our team represented different states of America including: California, Tennessee, Alabama, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Texas. Strangers became family and formed friendships that will last forever. I listened to our volunteers tell unique stories of individual children receiving shoes. In Haitian schools, children are required to wear a uniform and shoes. We saw a little girl that had two right shoes on, another with two different shoes, and numerous pair with shoes that were entirely too small. Most of the shoes were so old that they were falling apart. These children were so thankful and could not believe they were getting NEW SHOES!

     I’ve seen poverty all over the world and it is very easy to feel hopeless even while striving to make a difference. I’ve seen the rubble, homelessness, and starvation. As I heard the volunteers share I was reminded of HOPE. I listened and remembered the children’s faces in their stories. From this trip I realized that as we give the gift of shoes, these children give us much more. Our participants’ lives are forever changed from a simple act of kindness.

S4S + Bebe = $25 OFF

It's a simple equation. Soles4Souls is partnering with Bebe to offer a spectacular deal while giving you the opportunity to help others.

Join us on July 16th from 5-8pm at Bebe in Green Hills Mall in
Nashville, TN for an evening of shopping 
benefiting our newest division, Clothes4Souls.

Here is what you need to do. Bring in a pair of used jeans and Bebe will return the favor by giving you $25 OFF a new pair of jeans!

Join us for a night of fun and shopping & stay tuned for future partnerships that will help us to continue to change the world one pair at a time!

This event is all part of a nationwide partnership that begins July 15th and lasts until July 31st!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Two Men Inspired to Make a Difference

Mete Pete Johnson and Chris Lockhart.  These two men have discovered a passion for helping others by using the resources provided to them by Soles4Souls and their connection with the Florida based organization called REHOPE.

[ME]: What inspired you to travel to Colombia to give shoes to children in need?
[Chris and Pete]: A long time friend had been working with kids she had taken off the streets of Bogota, or would have soon ended up there.  Knowing this, and being at a point in our lives where we felt like it was time to give back to others, created our desire to help the kids.    

[ME]: Did you travel with an organization or was this something that you chose to do on your own? 
[Chris and Pete]: We started out on our own and over time we connected with REHOPE, who we are currently working with.  REHOPE has all the groundwork in place to make a difference but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and money to be raised.

[ME]: How long were you in Colombia?
[Chris and Pete]: We have made several different trips, each trip being only a few days long. We have so far spent 26 total days in Columbia and have carried in over 1,200 lbs of shoes and clothing.

[ME]: How many pairs of shoes did you give away? 
[Chris and Pete]: Approximately 300 pairs so far.  We did not start working with Soles4Souls until the last 100 pairs, but with the quality of the shoes we received, and ease of working with Soles4Souls we wish we had started the partnership earlier.   We hope to deliver many more pairs in the future as we develop more outlets in Bogota, and as the orphanages we are currently working with grow. 

[ME]: How did you select the children that you give shoes to? 
[Chris and Pete]: REHOPE has several foundations and orphanages they work with that have children in need.   They also work with community leaders and church pastors to reach out to families that are less fortunate. 

[ME]: How do you think that the people you gave shoes to will be affected by your donation? 
[Chris and Pete]: Most of the children did not have quality shoes and some had no shoes at all.  With shoes no longer being a pressing need, the foundations we are working with in turn can focus on other needs such as food and shelter. More importantly, by giving the children shoes an instant bond is created. The hope and feeling that someone cares for them long outlasts the pair of shoes.

[ME]: What was the most moving experience of the trip? 
[Chris and Pete]: We enjoyed seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces.   They were truly impressed that we would come from North America to bring them shoes.  These kids get little attention so being given shoes was a great blessing to them. 

[ME]: What did you gain personally from going on this trip? 
[Chris and Pete]: Lifelong friendships and bonds are made with each trip we make. The heartfelt gratitude and appreciation we receive is very rewarding. It is nice to know that something that cost us so little can mean so much to others.  Also, it is hard to convey – but there is a perspective that one comes away with that is invaluable.  There was a true joy experienced in the trip that one has to witness on their own. 

[ME]: Would you consider going on another trip? 
[Chris and Pete]: Absolutely!  We will be returning to Columbia in August, and plan on visiting as much as our schedule and resources allow.  We are excited that Soles4Souls is branching out to distribute clothing in the future as well.

[ME]: Will you encourage others to go on trips, either with SoleSoles4Soulsouls or on their own? 
[Chris and Pete]: Yes. We feel we can do more by spreading the word about Soles4Souls, and REHOPE within the flight department at FedEx.  Many pilots and dispatchers have already given donations or helped to carry in supplies.  There are many opportunities that go beyond shoes, yet shoes are very much needed.  It is our goal to reach out to other airline employees, provide information, and give them the opportunity to give back, as well as experience the joy that we have experienced.

More Information About the Two Men and REHOPE
Pete Johnson worked in the transportation industry for many years, giving him the opportunity to travel.  He has been to many destinations, yet was looking for someplace new to go while helping others at the same time.  Traveling to Bogota was a stark contrast to what would be considered more popular destinations, yet in many ways was incredibly much more fun and fulfilling.   He has discovered an excellent way to reach those in need, while having a great time.  At the same time being very much appreciated by the recipients of the shoes and clothing we have brought those in need.  It takes little in a third world county to make a difference.
Chris Lockhart feels called to do more to help others based off of events that have happened in his life.  Inspired by his friend, Pete Johnson, and the work he was doing in Bogota, Chris gained the courage to leave his comfort zone and  go out to try and make a difference in the world.  Having travel benefits because of his job, he was fully capable of fulfilling his calling to help others.  And with a passion for photography, he has captured moments that he hopes will show others the many needs in the world and like him, they too will be inspired.
REHOPE was started based off of the vision of helping children in Colombia. It all started in December 2006 when members from the church of Abatel located in Tampa, Florida and FedEx employees collected food, clothing and money for these children in need. We began by periodically sending donations to programs that serve children in several countries. Our vision is to impact the lives of 400 neglected children and young adults that are homeless, abandoned in the streets and living in forgotten environments by providing them with food, education, health care, guidance, love and a home in the outskirts of Bogotá Colombia.   Please see  or e-mail for more information.  

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Be Inspired

As a group from Soles4Souls boards their plane to Haiti today, they all have different intentions.  Some are going for the first time and looking to gain a first-hand account of Haiti’s situation, some are going to capture the roller coaster of emotions in Haiti on film, some are going to simply help others, but all in all, everyone is going to help rebuild the spirits of the people in this destructed country by providing them with shoes.  For Katie, who is in charge of planning all of the Soles4Souls trips, her hope is that people will truly see what a pair of shoes can do for someone’s life.  We will be keeping you all updated about their trip via our twitter @Soles4Souls and have hopes that in some way, you will be touched by what this group of people are doing.  Maybe, just maybe, you too will want to join Soles4Souls on a life-changing trip. 

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Kid's Prove That Age Doesn't Matter When Helping Others

Students at Long Valley Middle School in Long Valley, New Jersey have collected over 1,500 pairs of shoes in the past year.  Awesome!  That is 1,500 people  who might avoid contracting deadly diseases, who might have the possibility of getting a job, who might now be able to attend school, and whose lives might now be saved.  

Friday, July 02, 2010

Our Guide to the Best 4th of July Weekend

The Soles4Souls guide to having a great 4th of July weekend:


Shop: Remember that you can donate $1 when you shop at Finish Line and receive 30% off at Puma when you take in a pair of shoes to donate to Soles4Souls.

Be Outdoors:  Play a game of flag football with the family.  Or horseshoes.  And 4 Square is always a fun playground favorite to play with the little ones. 

Snap Photos: If your outside digging your toes in the sand or running your feet through the grass, snap a photo.  We love seeing our fans go barefoot to honor those who don't have shoes

Eat Delicious Food:  Get creative when grilling out this weekend.  Serve your hamburger like this:

designed by Olle Hemmendorff of Sweden
 or if you want to go for something a tad more simple, how about foot long hot dogs. And every burger needs to be complimented with fries, so how about these Shoe-String Fries.  And for dessert test out this recipe for Shoestring Potato Cookies
(12-ounce) package butterscotch flavored chips
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter 
4 ounces shoestring potatoes (approximately 1/2 of a 9-ounce can) 
1 cup raisins
 1.  Melt butterscotch chips and peanut butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.
2.  Meanwhile place shoestring potatoes in a mixing bowl. Pour butterscotch chip mixture over shoestring potatoes. Add raisins. Mix gently until combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto wax paper. Chill until firm. Makes 20 cookies.

Turn Up the Music: Purchase AJ Jansens' single, Bars, Scars, and Old Guitars.  All proceeds go to Soles4Souls.  Check out the song Erasable by The Carter Twins, as they are huge supporters of Soles4Souls 

Relax:  Everyone should take great care of their feet.  Treat yourself to a foot massage.

And most importantly, follow @WayneElsey on Twitter