Friday, November 21, 2008


The teachers and families at my children's elementary school are working on a green initiative this year. Sure, I've read all about the many sustainable schools around the country...Walls made of hay bales, kids growing their own organic food, solar panels on the roof, protected wetlands on the property... Amazing, right?

But what do you do if you are a high-performing school public school on a shoestring budget with standardized testing and budget cuts constantly looming? You get creative.

The newest step in the school's initiative is a shoe collection. The school has partnered with Kinderschuhe to collect new and gently used shoes of all sizes and styles for Soles4Souls. Kinderschushe's friendly owner Kimberly has graciously offered to pay for the shipping of the collected shoes and provide us with marketing materials.

Unlike Recycling, reusing doesn't use any additional resources. Reusing our possessions should be our ideal goal. For example, reusing shoes helps other people while at the same time lightly treading on the earth. (punny huh?) Both reusing and helping others are ideas that young children can really understand and get behind.

Many of us take something as basic as shoes for granted. Will I wear the patent leather pumps or the stacked boots today? For many other people in the world, something as simple as shoes can mean the difference between attending school or going without an education. Shoes can mean the difference between looking professional and landing a job or having to stay in a shelter.

After collecting the gently used and new shoes, Soles4Souls distributes the donated shoes both domestically to 45 states and abroad to 61 countries.

Domestically, Soles4Souls gives the donated shoes to victims of natural disasters who may have lost all of their possessions, to women in shelters so they have professional shoes to wear to job interviews and to summer camps for disadvantaged children who may not have adequate footwear.

Abroad, the donated shoes will travel to village women who have to walk long distances to obtain water for their families, orphanages where shoes are scarce and to people who have to sort through landfills in order to meet their basic survival needs.

Next time you go through your closet and find a pair of shoes that just isn't your style anymore, please take a minute to visit There you can find a list of local drop-off sites where you can give your old shoes a new life.

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