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Soles4Souls logo.jpg
FounderWayne Elsey[1]
PurposeCollects new and used shoes and redistribute them through direct donations through micro-enterprise partners
Buddy Teaster
David Graben

Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity, founded by Wayne Elsey 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 30 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.


After watching news coverage of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and seeing an image of a single shoe wash ashore, Wayne Elseywas moved to do something.[1] He 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.[4] Wayne Elsey- Forbes Wayne Elsey pioneered microenterprise when he founded Soles4Souls.

Partner organizations[edit]

Soles4Souls has teamed up with many other companies and organizations including the skateboarding company DC Shoe Company,[5][6] 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,[7] who donated more than 5,000 pairs of socks in 2010 for relief efforts after the earthquake that devastated Haiti.[8][9]

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,[10] Jessica Simpson,[11] Kellie Pickler,[12] Sarah Jessica Parker, Sir Elton John, the Kardashian sisters, Justin Timberlake, John Krasinski, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mariska Hargitay, Yoko Ono, and the TODAY show cast.[13] Soles4Souls set up a celebrity shoe auction that ran from June 1 to 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, CC Sabathia, Joe Girardi, and Robinson Canó.[13][14]

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.[15]


  1. ^ a b James O’Brien (March 24, 2014). "How A Former Shoe Salesman Supports Microbusiness In The Developing World". Forbes. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
  2. ^ "Our Mission | Soles4Souls l Help us STEP Up: Shoes to Eliminate Poverty™". Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  3. ^ "Changing the World – One Pair at a Time". Archived from the original on July 28, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
  4. ^ "Micro-Enterprise | Soles4Souls l Help us STEP Up: Shoes to Eliminate Poverty™". Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  5. ^ "DC assists Soles4Souls in the nonprofit's 11 in 11 campaign". Oc Metro. August 8, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  6. ^ "DC Joins the". Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  7. ^ "Earnshaw's Magazine". Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 27, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Jessica Alba: Charity Work & Causes". Look to the Stars. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  11. ^ Jessica Simpson Archived March 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Help Soles4Souls on the Daily Grommet | Ladies' Home Journal Blogs". December 22, 2010. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  13. ^ a b "News / Blog | Soles4Souls l Help us STEP Up: Shoes to Eliminate Poverty™". Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  14. ^ "charity AUCTIONS". Archived from the original on August 3, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
  15. ^ "Country Artist Adam Gregory Concludes Successful Soles4Souls Campaign And Tour @ - Songs & Videos from 49 Top 20 & Top 40 Music Charts from 30 Countries". April 24, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2013.