Topics & Perspectives

Soles4Souls: Changing lives one sole at a time

Photos courtesy of Soles4Souls ~

One shoe changed Cinderella’s life. Thanks to Soles4Souls, the shoes you donate can change lives, too.

Soles4Souls is a top-rated charity with a collection center in Coppell. The organization changes lives here at home and in emerging countries. Soles4Souls has distributed more than 73 million pairs of shoes and pieces of clothing in 129 countries, including the U.S., since 2006.

Giving the Gift of New Shoes and Clothing

About 1.5 million U.S. children are homeless. Through their 4EveryKid Program, Soles4Souls partners with shelters, schools, and children’s programs to get new, brand-name athletic shoes and clothes to children who need them. For many kids, these are the first new shoes they’ve ever owned. A kid with a pair of shoes can attend school — something that may not be possible without shoes.

“For me, having a new pair of shoes meant that I was worthy,” Khadijah Williams said. She spent most of her childhood homeless, trying to fit in at school despite dirty clothes, unkept hair, and hand-me-down shoes that didn’t fit. “It meant I had a choice when choice was such a rare commodity in my life. It meant I could walk and jump and move without pain. It meant I had dignity.”

Today, she’s a Harvard graduate and advocate for homeless children.

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Free shoes distributed on the Navajo Reservation

Fighting Poverty

“Soles4Souls turns unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity by keeping them from going to waste and putting them to good use: Providing relief, creating jobs, and empowering people to break the cycle of poverty,” Jamie Ellis, Soles4Souls Vice President of Marketing and Communications, said.

Your donated shoes and clothing get sorted and sent with shoes donated by footwear companies to nonprofit organizations in developing countries.

There, soon-to-be entrepreneurs receive business training and open their own shoe and clothing businesses with merchandise they buy for a nominal fee. Thus, Soles4Souls helps people in emerging countries go into business and lift themselves out of poverty.

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Empowering women entrepreneurs

Empowering Women

Most of these entrepreneurs in emerging countries are women.

Ginette lives in Haiti. The trajectory of her life changed with shoes from  Soles4Souls.

“To the person that says one pair cannot make a difference, I would say that is absolutely not true,” she said. “One pair can help me send my kids to school. One pair can help me feed my family, bring joy to my kids and husband.”

Ginette continued: “Women like me are really able to regain control of their lives.”

And this is just one story of empowerment.

Protecting the Planet

Americans throw away nearly 300 million pairs of shoes and 21 billion pounds of textiles each year. The unseen manufacturing costs amount to nine billion pounds of carbon emissions and 109 billion gallons of water — equivalent to six years’ worth of water thundering over Niagara Falls.

Soles4Souls has kept millions of pounds of textiles out of landfills. Donating just one pair of shoes keeps 1.25 pounds out of the dump, saves 2,000 gallons of water, and prevents 30 pounds of carbon emissions from being released into the air.

Used Sneakers WHow You Can Help

With a donation center in Coppell, you don’t need to go very far to make a difference.

Visit Soles4Souls for information about volunteering, making a tax-deductible donation, donating used shoes, soles, or clothing, and even starting a shoe drive.


Teresa Otto

Teresa Otto is a freelance writer, photographer, and retired pediatric anesthesiologist. She recently moved to The Woodlands, Texas from Montana. When she’s not traveling the world, she serves as a waitress and housekeeper for two rescued cats and a dog. Follow her travels on Instagram and her website.

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