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McIntyre Library launches 'Soles4Souls' drive to collect shoes

Those shoes you no longer want are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.
   
UW-Eau Claire’s McIntyre Library has launched a drive to collect shoes to help the less fortunate in the United States and abroad. The drive runs from April 18 to May 20, and students, faculty and staff and members of the Chippewa Valley community are encouraged to participate.

The shoes that McIntyre Library collects will be delivered to Soles4Souls, an international anti-poverty organization that monetizes used shoes and clothing to create sustainable jobs and fund direct relief efforts, including distribution of new shoes and clothing. Founded in 2006, the organization has distributed more than 26 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries.

Used and new shoes can be dropped off in the donation box located near the main library entrance past the security gates on the first floor, or at the Research and Instruction suite, room number 1001, which is also located on the first floor.
   
"McIntyre Library is supporting Soles4Soles because we wanted to organize an event in honor of Earth Week that would benefit the environment and also be helpful for our students and our community,” Library staff member Jenna Vande Zande said. “Around this time of year, leases are ending and many people around the city are on the move. Instead of hauling around unwanted shoes, we encourage anyone going through their closets to stop by McIntyre and drop off his or her surplus shoes. It’s environmentally friendly and makes a difference for those in need — that seems to me like a win–win for everyone.”
   
Soles4Souls, which holds a high rating from nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator, will convert every used pair of shoes collected from the community into a value-added social currency to achieve positive change, both humanitarian and economic. Most of the reusable shoes will be distributed to microenterprise programs that create jobs in Haiti and other poor nations. The resulting revenue will help fund the free distribution of new shoes in the U.S. and overseas. Among its relief programs, the organization has distributed more than 200,000 pairs of new shoes to help Philippine victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
   
The connection between poverty and shoes is well documented. The World Bank estimates that approximately 400 million children worldwide — more than the entire U.S. population — live in pronounced poverty. Millions of these children will grow up never having a pair of shoes, resulting in significant ramifications for their health and well being. Lacking proper footwear, countless children will not be able or permitted to attend school. And tens of millions of poverty-stricken, barefoot boys and girls will be infected with soil-transmitted parasitic diseases, which can be debilitating.
   
“Nearly everyone has a pair of shoes or two in the back of their closet that they don’t wear anymore and don’t know what to do with,” Vande Zande said. “Donating them to an organization like Soles4Souls not only helps those in need, it also keeps useable shoes on people’s feet and out of the landfills.”

For more information, contact Jenna Vande Zande at vandezjl@uwec.edu  or 715-836-3421.