Spring has finally arrived and to many, spring means spring cleaning.
If you’re planning on cleaning out your closet and getting rid of a pile of shoes, you may want to drop them off at the Soles4Souls bin located at 230 West Colville Street. Those shoes you no longer want are desperately appreciated to fight global poverty.
Soles4Souls Inc. has launched an ongoing recycling initiative in McMinnville to collect shoes to help the poor. The bin is monitored and emptied by Soles4Souls, an international anti-poverty organization that puts a value on the used shoes and clothing to create sustainable jobs and fund direct relief efforts, including the distribution of new shoes and clothing.
Matthew Hunter is a Soles4Souls employee who empties the 52 bins throughout Middle Tennessee used by Soles4Souls. He said the company uses shoes, as well as clothing that is donated.
He said Warren County is good about donating. He emptied an almost full bin last week which filled up the bed and extra cab in his pickup.
He said the shoes and clothing will be sold by weight to micro-enterprise distributors who transport and distribute used shoes to places such as Central America, South America and Africa. Many times, the business operators receive inventories of shoes to sell and only have to pay for the shoes if they are sold.
Shoes are in high demand because they are universally needed and valued. Shoes can be easily bartered for other goods in foreign countries. They are also a tangible commodity that is easy to transport and sell, thus helping the people in those countries to make money to feed their families.
Founded in 2007, the Nashville-based organization has distributed more than 21 million shoes in over 100 countries. Soles4Souls holds the highest rating from nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator.
Among its many relief programs, the organization is currently raising funds to ship 30,000 new pairs of shoes to Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines.
The connection between poverty and shoes is well-documented. Experts estimate approximately 400 million children worldwide – almost as many as the entire United States population – live without shoes on their feet. Millions of these children will grow up never having had a pair of shoes, resulting in significant ramifications for their health and well-being.
Lacking proper footwear, countless children will not be able or permitted to attend school. Also, tens of millions of these poverty-stricken, barefoot boys and girls will be infected with soil-transmitted parasitic diseases like hookworm, causing suffering and lifelong debilitation.
“The simple truth is almost anyone with a closet has shoes they don’t wear, or an old pair that will just end up in a landfill,” said community manager Tracy Swack. “Give those to us and know you are taking a step to making the world a better place for all of us.”
Visit www.giveshoes.org for more information.