SOLES4SOULS SHOE COLLECTION CAMPAIGN
In spring 2021, a new sustainability initiative was launched within Residence Life. The department launched a shoe collection campaign with the nonprofit, Soles4Souls. Soles4Souls’ is dedicated to promoting sustainability and ending poverty by collecting and redistributing gently worn shoes to those in need.
The nonprofit works with individuals, schools, and communities to host shoe drives for both paired and single shoes. The shoes can be heels, flip flops, sneakers, or any other type. Shoes are dropped off into collection bins and then mailed free of charge through UPS to the Soles4Souls sorting centers. From there, it is determined whether donations meet the organization’s criteria for redistribution. Shoes that do not meet Soles4Souls’ standards are responsibly recycled for their parts. However, according to Ms. Nicole Gabehart, the Soles4Souls Director of Texas Operations, this accounts for less than 1% of all donations.
The remaining shoes, based on quality checks, are sorted and disseminated in two significant ways. The first is through partnering with local community nonprofits and organizations. Soles4Souls works with these entities to distribute shoes to groups in need. These groups range from homeless children who need new shoes for school to families impacted by natural disasters and lost possessions.
The other avenue is working to end poverty by working with individuals to create small businesses, also called microenterprises. For example, soles4Souls sends shipments of donated shoes to nonprofits across the globe. These partners then provide job training and education to community members on how to start their businesses reselling shoes. By providing job skills training and items for resale, Soles4Souls and their partners are working hard to end poverty and assist individuals in becoming financially stable.”