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Formation 2006
Founder Wayne Elsey[1]
Type NGO
Purpose Collects new and used shoes and redistribute them through direct donations through micro-enterprise partners
Headquarters Nashville
Buddy Teaster
David Graben

Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity, founded in 2006, that collects new and used shoes and redistributes them through direct donations to people in need and through micro-enterprise partners.[2] Since they began, Soles4Souls has distributed over 22 million pairs of shoes to people in over 127 countries, including Kenya, Thailand, Nepal, Haiti, Japan and the United States.[3] In September 2014, they were awarded The Memorial Foundation Leadership Award from the Center for Nonprofit Management. Among other publications, Soles4Souls has been featured in The Tennessean, Footwear News, Runner's World,[4] Ladies' Home Journal,[5] National Geographic's The Green Guide,[6] and The New York Times.[7] The organization has appeared on CBS,[8] ABC,[9] NBC,[10] FOX,[11] BBC,[12] and thousands of regional news outlets across North America.


After watching news coverage of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and seeing an image of a single shoe wash ashore, Wayne Elsey along with a group of philanthropists and shoe company executives were moved to do something.[13] They orchestrated the collection of over 250,000 pairs of shoes and delivered them to those most impacted. After Hurricane Katrina hit the very next year, they collected nearly one million pairs for relief efforts. After realizing the desperate need for adequate footwear all around the world, Soles4Souls was officially formed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2006.


Soles4Souls manages a micro-enterprise operation in Haiti, contracting with established micro-enterprise distributors to transport and distribute used shoes to Central America, South America, and Africa. Once in the country, the distributors’ networks of micro-enterprise business operators receive inventories of shoes to sell. In many cases, the operators receive the shoes on credit and only have to pay for the shoes if they sell them. Shoes are in high demand for micro-enterprise because they are universally needed and valued, can be easily bartered for other goods, and are a tangible commodity that is easy to transport and sell.[14]

Partner organizations[edit]

Soles4Souls has teamed up with many other companies and organizations including the skateboarding company DC Shoe Company,[15][16] Miss Me Jeans, Blac Label Premium, SKECHERS, PUMA, Dick's Sporting Goods, Bon-Ton, Shoe Sensation, FILA, Barefoot Wines, Artisans, New Balance, Converse, and American Apparel,[17] who donated more than 5,000 pairs of socks in 2010 for relief efforts after the earthquake that devastated Haiti.[18][19]

In 2014, Stride Rite initiated a campaign in their retail stores in which they collected over 70,000 pairs of shoes to benefit Soles4Souls.

Soles4Souls' clothing division, Clothes4Souls, partnered with Macy's for their Share the Warmth campaign. Macy's provided 30,000 coats in 2013 and 50,000 coats in 2014 for those in need. Soles4Souls then distributed those coats throughout the country with the help of local partners.

Celebrity involvement[edit]

Notable celebrities that have worked with Soles4Souls include Jessica Alba,[20] Jessica Simpson,[21] Kellie Pickler,[5] Sarah Jessica Parker, Sir Elton John, the Kardashian sisters, Justin Timberlake, John Krasinski, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mariska Hargitay, Yoko Ono, and the TODAY show cast.[22] Soles4Souls set up a celebrity shoe auction that ran from June 1 to June 22, 2011, auctioning off shoes from the SNL cast, Spike Lee, game shoes from Lamar Odom and signed game cleats from Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Joe Girardi, and Robinson Canó.[22][23]

In 2009, country music artist Adam Gregory completed a successful six-week tour partnership with Soles4Souls, "What It Takes 2009", resulting in thousands of dollars of donations and used shoes.[24]


  1. ^ James O’Brien (March 24, 2014). "How A Former Shoe Salesman Supports Microbusiness In The Developing World". Forbes. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Our Mission | Soles4Souls l Help us STEP Up: Shoes to Eliminate Poverty™". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Learn How to Donate Used Running Shoes | Runner's World". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  5. ^ a b "Help Soles4Souls on the Daily Grommet | Ladies' Home Journal Blogs". 2010-12-22. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  6. ^ "National Geographic Green Living". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Banks, Jennifer (2013-12-12). "Soles4Souls collecting shoes - CBS Atlanta News". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  9. ^ [2][dead link]
  10. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  11. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  12. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  13. ^ James O’Brien (March 24, 2014). "How A Former Shoe Salesman Supports Microbusiness In The Developing World". Forbes. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  14. ^ "Micro-Enterprise | Soles4Souls l Help us STEP Up: Shoes to Eliminate Poverty™". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  15. ^ "DC assists Soles4Souls in the nonprofit’s 11 in 11 campaign". Oc Metro. 2011-08-08. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Jessica Alba: Charity Work & Causes". Look to the Stars. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  21. ^ Jessica Simpson
  22. ^ a b "News / Blog | Soles4Souls l Help us STEP Up: Shoes to Eliminate Poverty™". Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  23. ^ [3][dead link]
  24. ^ "Country Artist Adam Gregory Concludes Successful Soles4Souls Campaign And Tour @ - Songs & Videos from 49 Top 20 & Top 40 Music Charts from 30 Countries". 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2013-12-17.