Attention anyone with a closet and spring-cleaning plans: Those shoes you no longer want are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.
That’s the message being delivered by Soles4Souls Inc., which has launched an ongoing recycling initiative in Murfreesboro to collect shoes to help the poor. The shoes can be dropped off at their signature metal recycling bin strategically placed at the following locations:
The bins will be monitored and emptied by Soles4Souls, an international anti-poverty organization that monetizes used shoes and clothing to create sustainable jobs and fund direct relief efforts, including the distribution of new shoes and clothing. Founded in 2007, the Nashville-based organization has distributed more than 21 million shoes in well over 100 countries.
“Murfreesboro is supporting Soles4Souls because it is the definition of a social enterprise where solid business practices are used to create positive change in people’s lives,” said Community Manager Tracy Swack. “Murfreesboro has always been a strong supporter of Soles4Souls’ anti-poverty mission, and we hope this year to take an even bigger step in providing the organization with the used shoes they need to keep making a difference for people in need.”
Soles4Souls – which holds the highest rating from nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator - will convert every used pair of shoes collected from the Murfreesboro community into a value-added social currency to achieve positive change, both humanitarian and economic. Most of the reusable shoes will be sold as inventory for microenterprise programs that create jobs in Haiti and other poor nations. The resulting revenue will be used to acquire, transport and give away new shoes provided to Soles4Souls by Skechers and many other well-known brands. 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 that approximately 400 million children worldwide – almost as many as the entire U.S. 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. And tens of millions of these poverty-stricken, barefoot boys and girls will be infected with soil-transmitted parasitic diseases like hookworm, causing lasting suffering and lifelong debilitation.
“The simple truth is that almost anyone with a closet has shoes they don’t wear, or an old pair that will just end up in a landfill,” said Tracy. “Give those to us, and know that you are taking a step to making the world a better place for all of us.”
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