NASHVILLE, Tennessee- On October 10, Soles4Souls asked the world to help battle poverty by going barefoot on Barefoot4Them Day. The nonprofit fights poverty through the distribution of clothes and shoes. Since 2005, Soles4Souls has given over 19 million new and gently worn shoes to children in need around the world.
It is estimated that nearly 300 million children worldwide–almost the equivalent of the entire US population–live without shoes. Lacking proper footwear, countless children are not be permitted to attend school. These barefoot boys and girls are also at risk for becoming infected with soil-transmitted parasitic diseases like hookworm.
“The more we can convince people to go barefoot for just a few hours,” said Soles4Souls CEO, Buddy Teaster, “the more we are able to help those who have no choice because they have no shoes.”
On Barefoot4Them Day, the organization donated $1 for every hash-tagged photo (#barefoot4them) of participants without their shoes on, holding up a printed card. These pictures were uploaded to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. For every dollar raised, one pair of shoes could be delivered. Over 10,000 people signed up to participate in the event across nine countries. Other supporters set up shoe drives.
Soles4Souls is the only global charity based in Nashville, TN and so far, has proved to be extremely successful. In 2012, the not-for-profit reported over $55 million in annual revenue.
“Our consumer society dumps millions of used shoes into landfills every year,” said Teaster. “We created Barefoot4Them to politely interrupt that habit, and in return bring awareness to a new generation of sincere people who realize that the shoes they might have thrown away are precious currency in the fight against global poverty.” It is amazing the true impact that a pair of shoes can make for an impoverished child. Barefoot4Them Day, with continuing success, is an annual tradition, so be sure to look out for it next year!
– Sonia Aviv
Sources: Soles4Souls, PR Web, Sports and Social Change, WSPA
Photo: Black Dress Red Wagon