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Unwanted shoes become force for good

Words by Smiley Team

Sometimes a fresh pair of shoes can mean all the difference – and Soles4Souls is looking to provide that.

Soles4Souls started in the wake of two international crises, first the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, the deadliest tsunami in history, and next, Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in US history.

Following the disasters, shoe industry executives donated shoes to those affected – first 250,000 to those impacted by the tsunami in 2004 and then 750,000 to those affected by Katrina in 2005. The following year Soles4Souls was founded by Wayne Elsey.

Now, Soles4Souls has become a recognizable and well-regarded organization, even having a few pop culture appearances like entering the Guinness Book of World Records by stringing together 19,856 pairs of shoes in 2008.

Its aim is to turn unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity by keeping them from going to waste and putting them to good use.

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Today, the organization is doing more of the same while expanding its operation to other countries and bigger ventures like their new initiative 4EveryKid.

The goal of the 4EveryKid is to provide every K-12 student with a brand new pair of athletic shoes. The program has provided over 35,000 pairs of shoes since the program’s start. 

“It will be the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” Buddy Teaster, CEO and president of Soles4Souls, told Footwear News. “The impact 4EveryKid will be something I’ll be proud of the rest of my life. It takes a lot of work to get there, but if we can pull it off, it will make a difference to millions of kids.”

On another front, Soles4Souls is providing aid to refugees in Ukraine, aiming to send over $1 million worth of new clothes, shoes, underwear, and socks in at least three sea containers to partner organizations in Poland and Moldova.

“Soles4Souls has a long history of responding to natural disasters. The war in Ukraine and the ensuing refugee surge into Poland, Moldova, and other countries in Europe is manmade and all the more catastrophic for it,” Buddy told Yahoo Finance.

Inspired to act?

GIVE SHOES: You can donate shoes to Soles4Souls through their website

DONATE: The nonprofit relies on monetary donations too. Support them here

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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