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Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity, founded by Wayne Elsey in 2005, that collects shoes from the warehouses of footwear companies and runs shoe drives to collect donations from communities across the United States.[1] The charity distributes these shoes free of charge to people in need, regardless of race, religion, class, or any other criteria. Since 2005, Soles4Souls has distributed over 19 million pairs of shoes, currently donating one pair every seven seconds. The shoes have been distributed to people in over 129 countries, including Kenya, Thailand, Nepal, Haiti, Japan and the United States.[2] Soles4Souls has been featured in Runner's World,[3] Ladies' Home Journal,[4] National Geographic's The Green Guide,[5] and The New York Times.[6] The organization has appeared on CBS,[7] ABC,[8] NBC,[9] FOX,[10] BBC,[11] and thousands of regional news outlets across North America. Soles4Souls is a 501(c)(3) recognized by the IRS and donating parties are eligible for tax advantages.[2]

Celebrity involvement[edit]

Notable celebrities that have worked with Soles4Souls include Jessica Alba,[12] Jessica Simpson,[13] Kellie Pickler,[4] Sarah Jessica Parker, Sir Elton John, the Kardashian sisters, Justin Timberlake, John Krasinski, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mariska Hargitay, Yoko Ono, and the TODAY show cast.[14] Soles4Souls set up a celebrity shoe auction that ran from June 1 to June 22, 2011, auctioning off shoes from the SNL cast, Spike Lee, game shoes from Lamar Odom and signed game cleats from Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Joe Girardi, and Robinson Canó.[14][15]

In 2009, country music artist Adam Gregory completed a successful six-week tour partnership with Soles4Souls, "What It Takes 2009", resulting in thousands of dollars of donations and used shoes.[16]

Kenneth Cole-Soles4Souls Community Wellness Center[edit]

The Kenneth Cole Foundation partnered with Soles4Souls in 2010 on a nationwide shoe drive and launch of a retail program to raise money for the construction of a community wellness center in Haiti. The program, which ran from August 3 to September 16, encouraged customers to bring in their new or gently worn shoes, and donate funds to support the building of the center. Customers could choose to donate $10 at checkout when buying online, or donate directly via the Kenneth Cole website to support the construction of the Kenneth Cole-Soles4Souls sustained Community Wellness Center for children and adults in earthquake-torn Haiti. The community wellness center planned to include a recreation area, classes for HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention, along with education and treatment for Hookworm, one of the most common diseases affecting children and adults in Haiti.[17] Michael Franti was heavily involved in the efforts, named an ambassador for Soles4Souls in 2010. Franti put on a "Barefoot Concert Series" for the organization, collecting donations at each concert.[18][19]


Soles4Souls manages a micro-enterprise operation in Haiti, contracting with established micro-enterprise distributors to transport and distribute used shoes to Central America, South America, and Africa. Once in the country, the distributors’ networks of micro-enterprise business operators receive inventories of shoes to sell. In many cases, the operators receive the shoes on credit and only have to pay for the shoes if they sell them. Shoes are in high demand for micro-enterprise because they are universally needed and valued, can be easily bartered for other goods, and are a tangible commodity that is easy to transport and sell.[20]

National Barefoot Week[edit]

Soles4Souls set up a national holiday for their cause called "National Barefoot Week" that occurs in the first week of June each year. During this week, the Soles4Souls organization encourages participation and activism regarding the issue of access to basic necessities like shoes. They encourage people to go barefoot and tell others about the experience, get together with their local communities to run a shoe drive, and raise awareness on social media outlets by changing their profile pictures to bare feet.[21] Soles4Souls also selects cities in the United States to distribute thousands of pairs of shoes to during this week.[15]

Partner organizations[edit]

Soles4Souls has teamed up with many other companies and organizations including the skateboarding company DC Shoe Company,[22][23] Miss Me Jeans, Blac Label Premium, Artisans, New Balance, Converse, and American Apparel,[24] who donated more than 5,000 pairs of socks in 2010 for relief efforts after the earthquake that devastated Haiti.[25][26]

The organization also partners with Flipflop Wines to create the "Soles4Souls flippin' good deeds challenge" which challenges bloggers to lead shoe drives and encourage their communities to donate gently worn footwear. In return, bloggers have the chance to win a trip for two on an international shoe distribution trip with Soles4Souls, where they can deliver the shoes they have collected in-person to those in need.[27]

In 2007, Holeys (formerly Holey Soles) partnered with Soles4Souls to provide 100,000 pairs of shoes worldwide to people in need; the largest donation in the history of the organization to-date.[28]

In November and December 2010, the alarm system company NorthStar Alarm ran a holiday shoe drive to help the Soles4Souls organization.[29]

The Rome Braves held a shoe drive to benefit Sole4Souls, collecting shoes at the State Mutual Stadium August 1–13, 2011. For each pair of shoes donated, the Rome Braves gave a free general admission ticket voucher for the final homestand of the season, held August 22–30.[30]


  1. ^ "Our Mission | Soles4Souls l Help us STEP Up: Shoes to Eliminate Poverty™". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  2. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "Learn How to Donate Used Running Shoes | Runner's World". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  4. ^ a b "Help Soles4Souls on the Daily Grommet | Ladies' Home Journal Blogs". 2010-12-22. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  5. ^ "National Geographic Green Living". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Banks, Jennifer (2013-12-12). "Soles4Souls collecting shoes - CBS Atlanta News". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  8. ^ [2][dead link]
  9. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  10. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  11. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  12. ^ "Jessica Alba: Charity Work & Causes". Look to the Stars. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  13. ^ Jessica Simpson
  14. ^ a b "News / Blog | Soles4Souls l Help us STEP Up: Shoes to Eliminate Poverty™". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  15. ^ a b [3][dead link]
  16. ^ "Country Artist Adam Gregory Concludes Successful Soles4Souls Campaign And Tour @ - Songs & Videos from 49 Top 20 & Top 40 Music Charts from 30 Countries". 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  17. ^ "News / Blog | Soles4Souls l Help us STEP Up: Shoes to Eliminate Poverty™". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  18. ^ [4][dead link]
  19. ^ ON (2011-08-03). "The Kenneth Cole Foundation & Soles4Souls Partner on a Natio - Video Dailymotion". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  20. ^ "Micro-Enterprise | Soles4Souls l Help us STEP Up: Shoes to Eliminate Poverty™". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  21. ^ "Today is National Barefoot Day - Help Soles4Souls Raise Awareness of Poverty and Donate 50,000 Shoes to Those in Need". Woman Tribune. 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  22. ^ "DC assists Soles4Souls in the nonprofit’s 11 in 11 campaign". Oc Metro. 2011-08-08. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
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  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Helping Soles in Need", Style:, April May June 2007, p. 12
  29. ^
  30. ^