OMG, Shoes!

      “Seriously, how many pairs of sneakers do you really need?”  This was an actual comment from my husband, God love him.  Doesn’t everyone have these mountains of little gems?  And in my house we run; which is why there are so many piles of sneakers.  The shoes we wear for training and racing are usually good for about 300 miles or so.  After that, they are no longer good for the original purpose, but they are still in good shape.  I’m sure I’ve made my point in previous blogs, I’m cheap; so I’m certainly not going to throw them away!  This led me to investigate shoe drives.

In doing a little digging around the Runners World website, I came across the company Soles4Souls (http://www.soles4souls.org/).  These guys are doing an awesome job at collecting and distributing donated shoes of all types, and that got me thinking.  In June we will be running the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon as part of Grandma’s Marathon weekend in Duluth.  This is such a huge event in northern Minnesota, attracting tens of thousands of visitors and locals to the downtown area along Lake Superior.  Perhaps this is the ideal time to execute our own shoe drive.

I have fired off a quick email with a couple of questions to the folks at Soles4Souls.  I love the idea that my cast-off kicks could be passed on to someone halfway around the globe.  I usually keep a fairly strict rotation for sneakers:  training, walk-abouts, and finally camping/beaters.  Once a pair of shoes makes it to this last phase, I have a hard time deciding where it goes from there.  Sometimes I pass them on to my daughter, but that means they’re possibly still in the house, and therefore back in “Shoe Mountain”.  Once here, it’s easy for them to creep back into my rotation, only to cause confusion and back-ups in the program.  Enter the donation.

If you think you’d like to host your own shoe drive, and help other sneaker hoarders like me, here are some possible partners to assist you:

  • Scout troupes
  • Church youth groups
  • School organizations
  • 4-H clubs
  • Homemaker clubs
  • Local retail—especially sports-oriented stores
  • Youth sports clubs

Think about tying your shoe drive in with another event in your community.  Is there a running race or walk?  Any type of large sporting activity?  Maybe your city has a big festival or gathering for Memorial Day, Earth Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, etc. that will attract a lot of attendees.  You could work with the organizers to piggy back on advertising.  Just remember, if you go with Soles4Souls, you will need to pay for shipping the shoes if you’re not in close proximity to a drop-off location.  This would be a great opportunity for a corporate sponsor.  They suggest you plan on about a dollar per pair of shoes to cover shipping.

I hope that I have inspired you to organize your own shoe drive.  Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.  They collect all types of shoes, not just sneakers, so look to fashion shows/expos, too.  It’s a great way to pay it forward, not to mention make room for new shoes!  Because, like I tell my husband, you can never have too many shoes!

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