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I own three pair of shoes. I’m not making a green statement or promoting frugal living or suggesting that if you own more, then you need to immediately clear your closet. I'm just stating a fact. Actually, I do have more, but only three that I wear on a regular basis and at least one of those pair needs to be thrown away. When the treads on the bottom of a pair of running shoes is non-existent and the fabric holding the shoe together is doing the best to keep its original form, I believe that it is time to toss them out. Not only can damage result while running from not having proper support, but it doesn’t fair well for my “cat walk” stride when I do the weekly grocery shopping and decide to wear them as accents with my sweat pant outfit. Since my family is running together now, I am taking my running shoes more seriously, so I will be buying a new pair of shoes.
The luxury of affording a new pair of shoes is probably not something you think about everyday. Our shoes become worn and pushed to the back of the closet to make room for their shiny, new replacements. If you donate your old or “gently used” shoes, then that is great. If not, then consider this a lesson in sustainability and an opportunity to help others who wouldn’t mind “walking in your shoes.”
The mission of Soles 4 Souls is simple, “to impact as many lives as possible with the gift of shoes.” They are “Shoe People Helping the World™.” In less than five (5) years, Wayne Elsey’s Soles 4 Souls has managed to provide more than three million shoes to victims of natural disasters like the 2004 Asian tsunami (the event that birthed this charitable organization), Hurricane Katrina, and just people in need. Through donations received from "footwear companies, retailers, churches, nonprofit ministries, civic groups, schools, and individuals" of new and “gently used" shoes, Soles 4 Souls not only aides people abroad, but doesn’t forget about the people in need here at home. Just last week, during Barefoot Week, they provided more than “130,000 shoes” to disaster victims in Atlanta and New Orleans.
The organization has also started a running team called SolesInMotion™. If you are not a runner, then don’t worry because walkers, slow runners, and anyone interested in supporting the mission as well as getting in shape are invited to participate. Some of the perks for being a team member are personalized marathon or half marathon training (you may surprise yourself at what you can do) and the satisfaction of knowing that you are improving the life of another while also meeting a personal goal of getting in shape.
There are several ways to donate and help as well as many drop-off locations throughout the country making it easier for you to make shoe donations. We will be collecting shoes around our house and heading to our local drop-off location; my running shoes are headed to the trash (our donations will offset). It is a great way to make a positive difference, another opportunity to teach my children about sustainability and helping others, and clearing clutter and making more closet space isn’t too bad either.