Tying the World Together With Love
We say it over and over, but our donors and volunteers are truly the bedrock of Soles4Souls. Without your contributions, none of our work would be possible. When you give shoes, you give love.
So on a day that celebrates love, we thought there was no better way to celebrate than to share five stories of how you’re “tying the world together” through your generosity and commitment to our work.
Due to the privacy of individuals we serve, some names have been changed.
For several years, we’ve worked with Literacy Partners of Kewaunee County, a Wisconsin-based non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of area residents through literacy. The rural community along the coast of Lake Michigan is known for its dairy farms and commercial fishing, however most families struggle to make enough income in those jobs to support their families.
When Ryan came to an event hosted by our partner, he showed up in old, dirt covered shoes with multiple holes in both of them. When asked what size shoe he was, he replied “Size 15. It’s okay, I know you won’t have any that fit me.” Little did he know, they had one brand new pair– just for him. He was so overjoyed, he turned to his Mom and asked, “Do you think I could maybe try going out for basketball this year now?”
Ryan hasn’t been able to participate in extracurricular activities because he didn’t have a pair of shoes he could wear in a gym. Because of just one pair of shoes, and the donations that got them there, so much excites Ryan in what is now possible.
Meet Sophia and Daniela
In Clearwater, Florida we work with partners at ClothestoKids, an organization dedicated to providing new and quality used clothing to low-income or in crisis school-age children, free of charge. Last fall, we learned of two sisters who came in to shop with their mom. Their mom shared that they were kicked out of their home, leaving her to care for the girls and her four other children on her own.
The kids are starting a new school, and Daniela told us her favorite subject is art. Her favorite colors are pink and purple, and “these shoes make me happy,” she said. This story goes to show that just a pair of shoes can bring a lot of light to a dark situation– especially for a child.
In August 2020, 19-year-old Karla left her family behind in El Progreso, Honduras, with the hope of immigrating to the United States. The journey is dangerous– hours and hours of walking, oppressive heat, little food or water. And for Karla, that journey came to a quick halt as soon as she reached Mexico. Along with other migrants and children, Karla was stopped by police and taken to a Durango, Mexico prison. After a month of facing deplorable conditions, she was deported back home. Shortly after her return, Hurricanes Eta and Iota, both category 4 storms, barrelled through Honduras. One trauma after the other.
“Going to the U.S. wasn’t just to get out of Honduras,” Karla said. “It’s to support my family. If I can make enough here to support them, then I don’t need to leave.”
In January 2021, a friend introduced Karla to our partner in El Progreso. The team offered her a job on the spot– sorting, cleaning and preparing donated shoes to be sold by entrepreneurs in our micro-enterprise program.
Since then, she’s been able to provide for her parents and siblings.
“This job has really helped,” she explained. “No one else will pay what I get paid here.”
Meet Saber, Kyla, Sklar, Laci, Trace, Aiden and Serenity
These siblings and friends in Jackson, Tennessee all have different stories, but one shared experience– none of them have stable housing. Their living situations look like motel rooms, bunking up at a friends, or family members’ homes. They’ve become accustomed to hand-me-downs and used clothing, says their Mom. So when we were able to provide them with brand new shoes, their reactions were priceless. “This is the first pair of new shoes I’ve ever had”, said Skylar.
After the event, all the kids ran around a nearby playground, racing to see who could run the fastest. As their Mom looked off, she turned to a volunteer and said “This helps, in more ways than you’ll know.”
Through your generous donations, we are able to fund our 4EveryKid program, helping kids experiencing homelessness all across the country.
Sam has been one of our longest-standing partners at Soles4Souls, and we continue to be amazed by the work of his team at Haitian American Caucus. Whether it’s working with entrepreneurs to run their own small businesses selling shoes, or distributing new shoes to children in need, the work of HAC stretches across all parts of our mission. Just over 10 years ago, an earthquake devastated the country– becoming a major focus for our disaster relief side of our mission.. So when another earthquake rocked the country last August, we knew we needed to help.
Working with Sam to assess the needs, we were able to transport over 10,000 pairs of new shoes to be distributed over multiple weeks to areas impacted. Without our donors and brand partners, being able to respond quickly when disaster strikes would not be possible.
For many families who lost everything, we were happy to help in even a small way by keeping children safe with a good pair of shoes.