Soles for Souls
Soles4Souls was founded in 2006 and is based in Nashville, Tennessee. It is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to providing clothing and shoes for the poor. It works in collaboration with local and global partners in the distribution of clothing and shoes, and provides micro-enterprise programs by creating jobs in disadvantaged communities.

Soles4Souls collaborates with various community partners, supporting them through organizational resources. Community partners include homeless shelters receiving shoe donations, women’s shelters receiving business wear donations and inner city hospitals receiving clothing donations. Collection and circulation of wearable donations, as well as providing micro-enterprise programs, are the organization’s focus.

There are two methods of collection that Soles4Souls utilizes. It provides clothing and shoes that are discontinued, floor models, non-marketable overstocks and returns from retailers in the United States and other countries. It also provides clothing and shoes that are collected from individuals, educational centers, faith-based organizations and other corporate partners.

Upon being collected, the items are shipped to designated micro-enterprise businesses in different countries. The organization then contracts with private and nonprofit organizations to provide business resources as support. These methods introduce additional streams of income, and the overall objective is to create self-sustaining opportunities in poor communities.

This initiation of micro-enterprise activities adheres to the Millennium Development Goals in terms of eradicating poverty. On the United Nation’s website, the goal outlines the ability to “achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.”

Creating micro-enterprise programs in poor communities is a main focus of Soles4Souls. It believes these programs are key components for the social movement to promote social change. It aims to assist communities by providing sustainable jobs to impoverished people through business start-up opportunities. Soles4Souls states, “The concept itself is simple, an embodiment of the old saying, ‘Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day; give him a way to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.'”

Additional areas of interest include responding to natural disasters and orphanages by providing clothing and shoes. Soles4Souls has a “ready-inventory” in order to provide resources to disaster areas. In recent years, it has sent inventory to Hurricane Katrina victims. Orphanages in Central and South America, including Haiti, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and Tanzania, receive recurring resources in order to help with school uniforms and other essentials.

Soles4Souls aims to impact the 1 billion children who lack basic necessities like shoes and running water.

Erika Wright

Sources: Soles4Souls, UN
Photo: Flickr