You may think I misspelled “sole” in this blog headline and I really meant “soul.” Guess what? You’re wrong. This year instead of doing a Secret Santa exchange at the office, the SBTV.com holiday party planning committee decided to collect new or slightly used shoes for an organization called “Soles 4 Souls.” I’d never heard of this organization before so I decided to do a little research. Soles4Souls donates millions of shoes around the world to people in need.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of the organization. A shoe company executive, he was at home watching news coverage of the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia, and saw a picture of a single shoe washing up on the beach. He made a few phone calls to other executives in the footwear industry and subsequently received enough donated shoes for a quarter- million victims in the devastated countries. And as they say – the rest is history. Soles4Souls continues to save the world one pair at a time. They are currently working in 45 states and 61 countries and will have given away four-million pairs of shoes by the end of 2008.
The Soles4Souls web site states, “Footwear – it is a basic need that most of us take for granted every day. While most of the world does not have one adequate pairs of shoes, Americans have an abundance of footwear sitting idle in our closets. Your consideration of simply cleaning out your closets can make a significant difference in the quality of life of someone in need.”
Elsey’s passion for this organization, which he now runs full-time, is obvious. He told me, “I have seen children in the U.S. with their toes cut out of their shoes because they were too small and mom could not get a new pair. Duck tape on shoes, etc. There is no reason for this.”
What I found interesting about this organization is that small businesses can donate and feel as though they are truly making a difference. Charitable budgets at small firms are typically small, particularly in the current economy, but this is something you can do and know you’re really making a difference in someone’s life.
According to Elsey, the charity not only receives donations from many small businesses, but he also noted that some companies have on-going, recycle campaigns for shoes.
So if you’re looking for worthwhile charity to support for your company check out the Soles4Souls web site and learn how your team can get involved. It’s an excellent way to give back.