Soles4Souls ‘Running’ Out of Shoes, Seeking Donations

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Soles4Souls, the Nashville-based charity that distributes a pair of shoes every seven seconds to people in need, has put a call out for donations as the organization is literally “running out of shoes.”

After a record-breaking flood left its downtown under water, Nashville-based Soles4Souls collected shoes for its local community: Photo: Soles4Souls

Since 2005, the nonprofit has distributed more than 11 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes in more than 125 countries, including the United States. The shoes are donated from footwear companies, retailers, schools, community groups and individuals.

Not intending to work themselves out of a job, Soles4Souls has been so successful in distributing shoes since it’s founding following the 2004 Asian tsunami, the organization has put a call out to its grassroots network to immediately collect more shoes.

“Now, more than ever  before, we need our friends and partners to stand with us and send us all the shoes they can spare,” said Soles4Souls Founder and CEO Wayne Elsey.

“We’ve sent everything we had to suffering people. Thankfully, we have the most amazing support network of individual heroes, and today, we need them to engage their family and friends to clean out their closets and help us respond to the needs of people around the world and here in the U.S.”

Last year alone, Americans discarded more than 300 million pairs of shoes, according to Soles4Souls. Another estimated 1.5 billion pairs of shoes are sitting idle in closets, no longer worn. The organization hopes some of these shoes destined for the landfills or continued storage make their way to shoe donation centers.

Founder and CEO Wayne Elsey returned to Haiti to distribute more shoes to earthquake victims. Photo: Soles4Souls

Soles4Souls does not throw out any footwear it receives. If a pair of shoes is deemed unusable, they are recycled into materials used for playgrounds, insulation and other uses.

The low supply of shoes comes after the organization responded to a series of natural disasters in a short amount of time, including the earthquake in Haiti and flooding in Pakistan.

Its aggressive donation policy has led to a low shoe supply only one time previously, when the organization responded to victims of three natural disasters in a five-week period.

Permanent donation drop-off locations make it easy to donate, with shipping options available for large collections. Clothing donations are also available through the launch of its new Clothes4Souls division.

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