The gift of shoes

Tread Generously

After learning of the devastation left in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, footwear executive Wayne Elsey used his rolodex to collect 250,000 pairs of new shoes to send to people who'd lost everything. A year later, he collected 1 million more pairs for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Soles4Souls is now one of the
fastest-growing nonprofits in America. It has distributed nearly 12 million pairs of shoes in more than 125 countries across the globe—and more than half end up on the feet of needy Americans. In the time it takes you to read this sentence—about seven seconds—they'll give away another pair of shoes.

Despite the great strides Soles4Souls has made, the need for shoes worldwide is enormous. Fortunately, it's easy for you to help their cause. Here's how:

You can donate new and used shoes to a participating donor center, ask your local shoe store to host a shoe drive, or organize one yourself through your community.You can donate money directly to Soles4Souls. Every $1 you give provides one pair of shoes to someone who needs them. That means $20 buys 20 pairs of shoes.A donation of $10 or more allows you to make your gift in honor of a loved one—or as a meaningful holiday, birthday, graduation or wedding gift. If you give $45, you can even travel with Soles4Souls to distribute shoes. It feels good to dig deep, knowing your gift will help get someone back on their feet.
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Soles4Souls - Changing the world with the gift of shoes

Grommet Launch Conversation

  • Wayne

    Hi, I'm Wayne Elsey founder of Souls4Soles. I continue to be humbled every day by the outpouring of support of both companies and individuals who help us send shoes to those in need. I am pleased that Daily Grommet has chosen to share our organization’s story and mission with you and I am here to answer any questions that you may have.

  • Jenna
    12/23/2010 1:57 PM

    What a great organization! I'm already thinking we have at least 10 pairs of shoes to donate. I'll find a donation center today. Thank you so much for everything you guys do and to Daily Grommet for bringing it to my attention. All the best..

  • Wayne
    Wayne – Special Guest
    12/23/2010 2:40 PM

    @Jenna: Thanks for the comment. It is amazing that we all have excess, we estimate that there are 1.5B pairs of unworn shoes in Americans Closets. Just think – our excess can make a difference in peoples lives. And the good thing is that if your lonely pairs left need company, go out and buy more!!! Thank you for helping us change the world one pair at a time.

  • Sara
    Sara – Grommet Team
    12/23/2010 2:34 PM

    @jenna, That's great! It is easy to find a donation center near you by going to the Soles4Souls website and putting in your zip code. You can even have your own shoe drive. We did a shoe drive here at our Daily Grommet office and were amazed at how many unused shoes we all had in our closets! Thanks and Happy Holidays!

  • Sara
    Sara – Grommet Team
    12/23/2010 3:29 PM

    Wayne, we had a question on email that didn't get posted. (I actually had the same question.) Here it is:

    Hi there, I saw your segment on Daily Grommet. What an awesome ministry! Question: Can you do anything with women's pumps/heels, or do you need flats only? God Bless you and Merry Christmas!

  • Wayne
    Wayne – Special Guest
    12/23/2010 4:30 PM

    @Sara Pacelle: High heels for example are used with our partners in domestic violence shelters. They are given to these ladies to reestablish hope and a firm foundation to reenter the workplace. Dress for Success is one of our many partners. Thanks for your comment!

  • Jimmie Williams
    Jimmie Williams
    12/23/2010 3:46 PM

    Do they have to be brand new shoes to be donated?

  • Jessica
    12/23/2010 3:47 PM

    Hi Wayne -

    It is unclear to me if the donated shoes need to be new or can be gently worn. I know of some people (myself included) that get rid of our running shoes after about 300 miles but the shoes themselves still look new and have a lot of life left in them. I would sure like to find a home for shoes like these. Thanks. Jessica

  • Wayne
    Wayne – Special Guest
    12/23/2010 4:22 PM

    Thanks for your comment. We take all footwear both new and used. Gently worn footwear can save a life in developing nations where they do not have a pair...

  • Grace
    12/23/2010 4:22 PM

    Hi Mr. Elsey, I like your organization. Is there a way that I can do a shoe drive at my school? Merry Christmas!

  • Wayne
    Wayne – Special Guest
    12/23/2010 4:57 PM

    @Grace: Hey and yes. Thousands of children do shoe drives or fundraisers with us every month. It is a great alternative to selling wrapping paper and other items. You actually build a site (takes about 5 minutes) and you get started. Check out our site by clicking here and then click fundraising. For more details email crystale @ giveshoes . org to help with planning your event. You can change the world... do it!

  • Julia
    12/23/2010 5:18 PM

    Lovely work! And even better that you're partnering with Dress for Success! I just wanted to add that shoes (even just flip-flops!) can make such a difference in the health of people who don't have them. While working with indigenous communities in the Amazon region in Brasil, I saw what a risk it is to go barefoot all the time. Children can catch parasites or cut their feet, and they can get bitten by snakes or other critters while wandering in the forest or in the shallows of the rivers. Introducing shoes also introduced a cultural shift, but it was a necessary one given that the (formerly nomadic) tribes had been contacted and settled into one spot. I had never considered the impact shoes could make until I saw it for myself. Thank you for the work you're doing!

  • Wayne
    Wayne – Special Guest
    12/23/2010 6:10 PM

    @Julia: Thank you so much for your comment. It is amazing what a pair of shoes can do – save a life, change a life. We tell everyone when we give them a pair – there is a brighter day, move and look forward – do not worry about where you walk – just walk. Thanks for your kind comments.

  • Rebecca Shattuck
    Rebecca Shattuck
    12/23/2010 5:51 PM

    Hi there,

    I went to your website and found the answer to my question about womens pumps/heels, thank you. What an awesome ministry!!! God Bless you all and I hope that you have a Very, Merry Christmas and a Wonderful, Happy New Year!!

  • Stephanie Fagan
    Stephanie Fagan
    12/23/2010 6:32 PM

    Hi! I'm in a military community in Germany. Is there any way for me and my husband to donate shoes? I'm sure I could get many other people to donate too.

    Please get back to me.


  • Wayne
    Wayne – Special Guest
    12/24/2010 2:47 PM

    @Stephanie Fagan: Yes look on our site, enter in your postal code and a partner should appear. If not email me directly and I will figure something out. waynee (at)giveshoes(dot)org

  • Linda  ATT Pioneers
    Linda ATT Pioneers
    12/24/2010 12:02 AM

    I have worked with Soles4Souls thru ATT Pioneers. We had a drive for shoes to be sent to Haiti. It was one of the most rewarding projects we have participated in and your organization was a pleasure to work with. Keep up the outstanding work!

  • Sara
    Sara – Grommet Team
    12/24/2010 1:49 PM

    @Rebecca Shattuck, glad you got your answer. Soles4Souls accepts womens pumps/heels and distributes them to their partner organization Dress for Success. @Stephanie Fagan, you are inspiring us with your enthusiasm to organize shoe donations in Germany! We will get you information in the coming [email protected] ATT Pioneers, thank you for telling us about your own shoe drive. We agree that S4S's staff is a special group of people who have worked hard to make it easy for others to get involved! Thank you all for taking the time to learn about Soles4Souls!

  • Danielle
    Danielle – Grommet Team
    1/5/2011 2:13 PM

    This reminds me of a day trip I took to see the landfill my trash went to in Savannah. The trash there is packed down under heavy, clay-like dirt every day. Rubber is less dense than the dirt, so things made of rubber push their way back to the surface. The only things sticking out of the dirt at the landfill were the occasional tire and so many shoes!

    It's great that Soles4Souls is providing shoes for people who need them as well as giving a second life to shoes before they end up trash.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    1/6/2011 12:03 PM

    @Danielle: I bet that was an interesting day trip. We should all take the time to spend a day with our trash.

  • Soo
    1/6/2011 2:05 PM

    I write a column for our community's monthly magazine and am working on a de-cluttering article. I will be sure to include your mission and the nearest drop location.

  • Tori
    Tori – Grommet Team
    1/6/2011 4:01 PM

    @Soo: I am sure Wayne and the entire Soles4Souls organization will greatly appreciate your efforts to help spread their mission. If it helps with your piece, feel free to grab our video (you can embed it into another site, or link to it). What a great tie in to your community magazine (and timely for the new year).

  • Karen
    10/20/2012 1:15 PM

    I am very interested in the Soles4Souls Charity but would like to know why there aren't any comments after January of 2011?

  • Chew-Hoong
    Chew-Hoong – Grommet Team
    10/23/2012 1:28 AM

    @Karen Crouse: Most comments are shared within 24 - 48 hours of launching a Grommet. Of cos, as folks find our Grommets, they might add a comment, like you're doing now. Thank you for your enthusiastic support!

The launch day conversation has ended. Please direct further questions about this Grommet to our Community Experience Team.