Soles4Souls: Walking the Extra Mile for Those in Need
We’ve all heard the saying “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. While many charities and non-profits tend to focus on the “giving” part, Soles4Souls does both the giving AND the teaching; in fact, this company has made this proverb its mission.
Founder Wayne Elsy was inspired to give shoes to those in need after the Southeast Asia tsunami in 2004. The company distributes shoes to those in poverty and those affected by natural disasters; however, it ALSO delivers shoes as a means for those in developing economies to build their own businesses.
When I read that on the company’s website, I thought “How in the heck do they do that”? I mean, I understood the donation of shoes to the needy, as this is done by many charities, from the Salvation Army to TOMS Shoes. However, this “micro-enterprise” support is what makes Soles4Souls truly stand out. Not all shoes that are donated are usable right away– some are impractical, like most of my shoes would be if I gave them away! Others need repair. Soles4Souls distributes these shoes at a low cost to small businesses in developing areas, who then sell them for a profit.
What impresses me the most about Soles4Souls is the sustainability of its model; sustainability both in the environmental and economic sense of the word. Reusing and recycling unwanted shoes and apparel prevents these items from ending up in trash bags and landfills. The distribution of shoes to micro-businesses sustains families, and in turn, local economies in developing areas. By both giving and teaching, Soles4Souls is supporting a sustainable future for shoe donations around the world.
You can donate to Soles4Souls here.