By: Yeskanisayka Urbina/Staff Writer
The University’s Office of Residence Life Diversity and Inclusion Committee is helping fight global poverty by motivating students to donate shoes.
Soles4Souls, a non-profit social enterprise based in Nashville, collect 60 shoes to donate to Honduras, Haiti and other developing nations with help from the University.
The donation boxes will be available until Friday, Nov. 30 in the following residential buildings: Lakeview North and South, Panther Hall, Everglades Hall, University Towers, University Apartments and Parkview.
Each residential building has their own donation box in the lobby, left open for shoes to be dropped off at any time.
“It’s a dropbox type of thing and each box is decorated differently,” said Parkview’s Building Assistant, Bethany McCoy. “I tried to decorate ours in Parkview a little bright so it could appear easily.”
Soles4Souls receives donated shoes and partners with a non-profit organization to then help create environmental jobs and distribute the shoes around the world.
“Soles4Souls is meant to spread awareness on social issues happening around the world,” said FIU Residential Life coordinator, Dominique Aaron. “One of those issues happen to be that people are unable to protect their health because they cannot afford shoes.”
As they partner with a non-profit organization, Soles4Souls sell the shoes to that organization for $1 per pair, then using those funds to cover transportation of the shoes.
Distributing to 127 countries, Soles4Souls creates job opportunities through a micro-enterprise program, a program that helps individuals maintain their own business.
The micro-enterprise program than recruits people in a developing country’s community to be trained and taught how to set up a shop in a market and run the business.
The entrepreneurs in-training take out a microloan and sell the shoes in the marketplace, to then keep a good amount for themselves from that income according to Lydia Dowdell, manager of community partnerships at Soles4Souls.
“All micro-enterprise programs are in developing countries,” said Dowdell.
Soles4Souls also collaborates with retail brands like Adidas and Stride Rite to distribute brand shoes for free.
“Partners all around the world decide what is needed and where,” said Dowdell. “We’re not going to send snow boots to Haiti. We have partners all over the world that ensure the donated shoes to be utilized.
The University and Soles4Souls implore students to donate what they can to the cause, because each donation can contribute to the long-term success of their initiatives in developing nations.
“It makes a really big difference,” said Dowdell. “One pair of shoes in Haiti or Honduras can be 5 meals for a family and so it’s making a really big difference.”