I was at Reebok headquarters the other day meeting with their social team, when I noticed a shoe drop box. Donate your old shoes in any condition, to help the half a billion kids worldwide that don’t have any shoes. It was from Soles4Souls and one of the many outlets that have helped the organization deliver a whopping 15 million shoes so far. Count a pair as two shoes and you have 30 million!
And it doesn’t cost a lot—just $1 will help get one child a pair of shoes. Even a high school teenager that has pocket change or leftover tips from their restaurant job can make a difference. Before I begin to sound like a TV commercial that pulls your heartstrings via parading pictures of starving children in front of you, let me tell you that I did my research and see this is a solid organization. They now have a 300,000-square-foot warehouse, 45 employees, and a $100 million operation.
Wayne Elsey was once a shoe company executive, so he knows the business and has connections. He’s doing it for the cause, not to make money. What was once a “shoestring” operation has now grown into a global enterprise in Nashville that holds fundraising events all over the country and has the participation of the largest companies. For example, watch the video here. They’ve expanded to donate clothing, as well.
Consider the things we take for granted. I read that the average teenager buys 4 pairs of shoes per year. Before Nike singlehandedly turned shoes from a utility item to a piece of fashion, the average kid bought 2 pairs per year. But when it’s fashion, you buy for what’s cool versus whether you actually need physical replacement. It’s more about obsolescence from style versus being worn out. When I ran track years ago, I would sometimes go through a pair of shoes in 4 weeks. If you’re running 80 miles a week and you know a pair of shoes loses cushioning at about 300 miles, you can do the math.
But if you’re not a Division I cross country runner—especially if you’re sponsored and not having to pay for shoes (that was great while it lasted)—then that’s a lot of waste.
At our company, we want to make an impact in the world—which is why we work with organizations like Grameen Foundation that seek to eradicate poverty, improve living conditions, and deliver shoes all over the world. Wayne Elsey is a great man and we are pleased to support his organization and the awesome team he has assembled. Check out the Wayne Elsey blog to keep up to date.
If you want to participate in any way—helping spread the word, donating your shoes, holding a shoe drive at your school, or contributing your talents in any way—just let us know and we’d love to talk to you. If you’re underemployed, unemployed, or perhaps a college student that wants to get experience in Facebook marketing, this could be a great internship opportunity that will give you the skills and real-world experience you need to thrive in online marketing.
And as a special pledge, we will donate $1 per pair of shoes donated to our headquarters at 718 SW Alder Street, Suite 200, Portland, OR 97205, up to a limit of 1,000 pairs. You can also follow Soles4Souls on Facebook and Twitter.