Monday, August 30, 2010

We're Moving!!!

We've experienced tremendous growth & changes over the past few months. One area of focus that has experienced improvement is our social media outlets. Our purpose in making these changes is to engage people in new ways, ultimately enabling more people to get involved with our mission.

With that said, we're excited to announce that the Soles4Souls Blog officially has a new home:

From now on, our blog will be updated from the new site. We hope that you will continue to follow the new blog for updates & stories. You can subscribe to the blog by clicking here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

10,000 Shoes on your Doorstep

     Most people have closets cluttered with a far-too-many shoes. Now imagine having thousands of used shoes arrive at your house daily. That's what happens at one of the four Soles4Souls collection centers. Allan and I visited the Las Vegas warehouse to drop off some donated shoes people had given us It's amazing how often people see the Soles4Souls RV and motion us to pull over so they can give us used shoes from the trunk of their car! They always say, "I've had these shoes in my car for several weeks and didn't know what to do with them."

While dropping off the shoes, we met the friendly warehouse staff and volunteers who manage the thousands of shoes arriving on a daily basis. These guys are very efficient, so keep those shoes coming!

The Soles4Souls RV is making its way across the country as a part of The Great American Shoe Drive. Allen & Silvana Clark have been traveling the country distributing shoes & promoting our cause. Next week, the RV makes its way to Los Angeles to collect & distribute shoes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Photo of the Week

48 orphaned Haitian children and only one pair of plastic slippers. These are the feet of children who lost everything in the earthquake, including their home and their schoolhouse. Being able to put new shoes on their feet was an experience unlike any other.
It was hard to tell who was more blessed by the shoe distributions were doing: the children or the Soles4Souls team?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Motorcycle Boots & JellyPops

     The Soles4Souls RV is making its way across the country as a part of The Great American Shoe Drive. Allen & Silvana Clark have been traveling the country distributing shoes & promoting our cause. This week, Silvana shares stories from last week's distribution in Salt Lake City:

     The statistics are horrifying. It is estimated that 50% of deaf women are sexually abused. The Sego Lily Center for the Abused Deaf (SLCAD) is an advocacy agency designed to meet the specific needs of Deaf, Deaf/Blind and Hard of Hearing victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Salt Lake City. Allan and I were privileged to be able to give this agency high-quality, new shoes. Last week, our distribution at the refugee center was very loud with people speaking in their native languages to each other from one side of the room to another.

 Our distribution at the Community Center for the Deaf was a bit on the quite side as people used their hands to sign to each other. With the help of two interpreters we were able to fit men, women and children with shoes. Most of the participants are on SSI or live off Social Security checks and can seldom afford new shoes. We had the best time matching shoes to each person’s “personality”.

      One woman entered the room with spunk and energy and left with a pair of sparkling pink shoes. Another woman had a job where she needed dressier shoes, but couldn’t afford to buy a pair. The slip-on shoes donated by JellyPops were perfect for her.

   Then of course was the thrill of finding a pair of shoes for a deaf Harley Rider!

   We were able to acquire the Olympic torch from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. It was neat to see peoples faces light up when they got to hold the torch.

     Later, a staff member commented that she had never seen so many people smiling and walking with a new “spring” in their step.

     “You gave our clients something special,” she told us. What more could we ask for?

Our Next Stop: Los Angeles
- Check out The Great American Shoe Drive Map for the complete list of the cities, dates & event details.
-  Follow the tour on Twitter & use the hashtag #giveshoes when you make a donation.
- Tell us about your Great American Shoe Drive experience.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wahoo Runs for Soles

     We love to hear stories from people who are changing the world one pair at a time.  We recently worked with college athlete Erin Curran who wanted to combine her passion for running with making a difference in the world.  
     Erin is a cross country and track & field athlete at Black Hills State University, where she will begin her sophomore year in the fall. This summer, Erin wanted to coordinate a road race in her community and thought that it would be fun to incorporate some sort of cause. She then decided that participants could have the option of donating shoes for people in need. Erin chose to make the race a shoe drive for Soles4Souls. Finally, Wahoo’s Shoes for the Sole Run/Walk event was born!

     We thought it would be interesting to ask Erin some questions about her shoe drive experience...

Q. When you first began organizing the 5k, why did you choose partner with Soles4Souls?
A. When I first began planning this event, I was unsure of where to send the shoes. I did some research and found that Soles4Souls distributed shoes around the world and also to places here in the United States. Their mission was inspiring and made me want to join the cause!

Q. How did you get other people involved in your shoe drive? How did you promote your event?
A. Promotion was a key factor. I put up flyers, advertised the event in the local newspaper, created a Wahoo Running Facebook page, and asked area businesses for their support. The community was very receptive, which was apparent by the number of shoes collected.

Q. What has been the best part about your experience?
A,  The best part of my experience was seeing the event come to fruition. It was hard work putting on the road race. However, watching the participants truly enjoy themselves at the event, and looking on as the pile of shoes grew larger, more than made up for the stresses and work. The happiness I felt was overwhelming!

Q. Any interesting or funny stories that involve collecting shoes?
A. Participants who gave shoes at the Shoes for the Sole Run/Walk were put into a drawing to win one of two gift certificates to Lincoln Running Co., a specialty running store in Lincoln, Nebraska. When we called off one of the names, a tiny, five-year-old girl came to the front to claim her prize! It was adorable and refreshing to see that someone so small is making a difference in the world around her.

Q. If you could give one piece of advice for someone who was wanting to host a shoe drive, what would you say?
A. If a person is thinking about hosting a shoe drive I would tell them to take action! Don’t be afraid to ask for help or of a low success rate. After all, in the words of Soles4Souls, it’s about “changing the world one pair at a time.”

We're extremely grateful for people, like Erin, who are passionate about changing lives by giving the gift of shoes.
If you have a story from your shoe drive, share it with us!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Photo of the Week: D.C. kids get new shoes

     Sondra Clark, a spokesperson for Soles4Souls, headed up an all-day shoe distribution with the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington DC. Almost 3,500 children participated in creating inventions for fun and prizes.
     Sondra,  organized the distribution and helped the volunteers understand the noise level that all those kids create! During the event, we were able to give the gift of new shoes to many children as they head back to school.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Guest Post: Villicana Family Lemon Drop

I'm a Mother, Wife, Photographer, Blogger, Activist and Big Time Dreamer.

I had the great fortune of starting a tradition of annual volunteerism with my 
two young sons last summer.

A friend of mine was walking in the Susan G.Komen 3 Day Walk for Breast Cancer and I decided that I wanted to do something to help her meet her fundraising goal. My sons, then five and two years old, helped me collect unwanted goods from friends and family and in turn,sell them at a garage sale; with all proceeds going directly to the Susan G.Komen Organization.

(Please see attached links for details from last summers event.)

Due to the success of the garage sale and the immense gratitude evoked in both my children and myself, I knew that this act of selfless volunteerism had to become a yearly event.

When thinking about which charity we would donate to this year, Soles4Souls was quick to come to mind. I had seen a televised segment last year about the work that Soles4Souls was doing in Haiti soon after the earthquake and was greatly moved. I thought that the idea of collecting and redistributing shoes was both ideal and age appropriate for my young sons. While searching the Soles4Souls website for ways to volunteer, I found the link for the Lemons To Aid program. 
A few clicks of the keyboard and a confirmation email later, we were signed up to host a Lemon Drop; the collaborative fund raising program created by Soles4Souls and Lemons To Aid.

The more that I thought about our family Lemon Drop, the more I knew that I wanted to push the boundaries and try to make the event bigger and better than the previous years event. I made a list of the items and qualities that I would have in an ideal Lemon Drop, and then I picked up the phone.
I called the director of our local Farmers Market in Vista California, and proposed the idea of holding the Lemon Drop at the market on a busy Saturday morning. I was thrilled to be told that "Yes!", not only was it possible but that it was welcomed.
I called for lemonade donations and within days, the call for donation was answered by
 Hot Dog On A Stick, who will be providing us with all of the lemonade for our event.
Lemon Meringue Pies have been donated by the legendary Mama Kat's restaurant.
A local musician, Derek Evans, has decided to spend that Saturday morning alongside the rest of us, in a selfless collaboration for shoes and donations.
Promotional signs and flyers have been donated by Hutchins Printing.
Balloons, Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, the list goes on and on...

And the excitement grows.

In addition to the behind the scenes work that I have been doing to orchestrate this event, my boys have been working quite hard in preparation as well.
There is a lot more to come from us, plenty of surprises waiting to be revealed the morning of the Lemon Drop
 Saturday August 21,2010.
Photo by: Corey Villicana
If you happen to be in the San Diego area that morning, 
please come by for a slice of lemon pie and a quick hello.
If you don't happen to be anywhere near the San Diego area that morning, please keep us and our Lemon Drop in your thoughts.
Photo by: Corey Villicana
At the end of the day, I hope to set an example for my children that hard work and volunteerism do go noticed. I want them to be living proof that every single person's contribution does help and that the very  smallest of children can make the very biggest of change. 
Photo by: Corey Villicana
I truly believe that every human being has the capability to accomplish anything that they put their mind to.
Photo by: Corey Villicana
For more about Corey Villicana and her Life With Little Ones, please visit her blog: Life With Little Ones

Friday, August 06, 2010

Live from Salt Lake City

The Soles4Souls RV is making its way across the country as a part of The Great American Shoe Drive. Allen & Silvana Clark have been traveling the country distrubuting shoes & promoting our cause. This week, they kicked off the 22 city tour in Salt Lake City:

The Great American Shoe Drive began with an around-the-world kick-off with a shoe distribution at the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City. A long line of refugees waited patiently in line for new shoes.
In Salt Lake City, the IRC helps them rebuild their lives.

Our youngest (and cutest!) volunteer at the distribution was this nine year old girl. She and her mother fled from Eritrea (close to Ethiopia) and then lived for years in a resettlement camp before arriving in Salt Lake a month ago. I loved her enthusiasm and desire to learn English as she helped us set up the shoes. She arrived wearing stiff, ill-fitting shoes and was thrilled to get some sparkly pink sneakers that fit!

We also found the perfect pair of shoes for a gentleman with only one arm who has difficulty tying shoes. Even though we didn't speak the same language as the refugees, their universal smiles told us how happy they were to get new shoes.

- Silvana

  • Stay Tuned! We will continue to share stories from The Great American Shoe Drive as they make their way through 22 cities to impact thousands of lives.
  • Follow the Soles4Souls RV Tour on twitter for updates about The Great American Shoe Drive and where the RV is heading next.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

What makes America great?

   You could probably formulate 1,000 different responses to this question. Here at Soles4Souls, we are frequently reminded of one attribute that makes America great...Generosity.  

   Time and time again we've seen Americans step up and act generously to meet a need. Just this year, we've had major natural disasters both internationally and locally. In both cases, people have risen to the occasion. We are constantly inspired by stories of people who have used their abilities and resources to impact the lives of others.

   With that said, we're excited to announce our partnership with Footwear News to give you the opportunity to show your generosity once again...

106 days. 22 cities. 6,000 miles. Thousands of lives changed.

The Great American Shoe Drive is a cross-country tour that lets you to meet the needs of people in your community. All of the shoes that are donated are redistributed locally.

   We kicked off the drive this week in Salt Lake City at the Outdoor Retailer Show where we will be collecting gently used shoes. The shoes will then be distributed to the Sego Lily Center for the Abused Deaf

   Next week we're headed to Las Vegas to collect shoes WSA Show & FN Platform Show.

Want more info?
- Check out  The Great American Shoe Drive Map for the complete list of the cities, dates & event  details.
- Follow the tour on Twitter & use the hashtag #giveshoes when you make a donation.
- Tell us about your Great American Shoe Drive experience

What are some other things that make America great?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

100,000 Pairs to Pakistan

Pakistan is a nation on the brink of several types of disaster. Monsoon rains have devastated its troubled northwest region near Peshawar, causing major flooding.

Here are some facts about the severity of the damage:
  • The flood has taken the lives of over 1,500 people
  • Over 1 Million people have been displaced from their homes
  • The U.N. Children’s Fund estimates that 100,000 children are suddenly at risk of infection of cholera and gastro diseases, largely preventable with a decent pair of shoes.

We believe that this disaster becomes a call to action. Soles4Souls is dedicated to sending 100,000 pairs of new and gently worn shoes to Pakistan, but we need your help to make this happen.

How Can You Help?
  1. Donate shoes - Find a drop off location near you or host a shoe drive for those affected in Pakistan.
  2. Donate Funds -  We need monetary donations to help ship and distribute the shoes to those in Pakistan who need them most. For every $1 you donate, we will be able to provide a person with a pair of shoes.
  3. Spread the word - Tell your friends how to get involved. Whether they are from your church, school, neighborhood or Facebook.
Soles4Souls has always provided aid where it is needed, regardless of political, religious, ethnic or any other criteria. Will you help us reach out to our Pakistani friends and show them that we care about their families?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Photo of the Week

We visited an orphanage on one of our recent Haiti trips. Children who had lost practically everything were given a new pair of shoes. As we walked through the orphanage, this little boy's smile captivated us.