Skip to main content

Help Soles4Souls Respond to Natural Disaster Victims During the Big Payback

From the blog of our president and CEO, Buddy Teaster

We recently had our all-staff retreat… a time to look ahead but also look at what worked and didn’t work in the last year. As we talked through the ins and outs, I made a mistake. I forgot to mention the devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico. While Soles4Souls has recently taken three travel trips to Puerto Rico, just in the last two months, and distributed 1,800 pairs of new shoes to those in need, I still somehow failed to discuss our efforts with the team. 

Aside from being embarrassed (so many lives wrecked, so much property destroyed), it was also a perfect reminder of how easy it can be to forget such huge losses when I’m in the comfort of my home and city, all safe and sound. 

Soles4Souls, even before we were officially S4S, got started in response to the tsunami in southeast Asia in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Out of those cataclysmic events, we learned the power of having new shoes. As the water receded and winds stopped howling, we saw that having new shoes allowed people to safely start clearing debris and rebuilding their lives.

It’s only a small piece, of course, compared to water and generators and food, but we’ve learned from the first responders that getting shoes on people’s feet is important. It helps them stay out of the hospitals with less serious injuries so the medical teams can treat those with serious trauma. As we hear time and time again, shoes matter. 

So, that’s part of the reason we’re focused on preparing for the next disaster relief effort right now. Our history, combined with a sad recognition that the next natural disaster might be only months away, means we need to restore our inventory.

Last fall we distributed more than 500,000 pieces of shoes, clothing, water, diapers, and blankets. And we’re still working in Puerto Rico, distributing shoes and clothes there as recently as April. We are glad to have had them ready, but it means we have to build back those items to be able to respond when the next hurricane, flood or fire strikes.

You can help us prepare by participating in our Big Payback campaign on May 2nd. Our goal is to raise $24,000 in 24 hours so we can have new shoes and clothes in our warehouse and funds available to pay for shipping them.

Though it’s a big goal for us, given the scale of just one hurricane, $24,000 is a drop in the bucket. But when you know the relief and gratitude of that mother who can clothe her children, or the father who can get back to work, or the first responder who has new boots to get back and help others, I believe you’ll remember how much your contribution really means to them and to you. 

I hope you can find room in your checkbook and your heart to donate on May 2nd by visiting When the time comes, it will make a world of difference.