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Eau Claire puts best foot forward, donates more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls drive

| Jenna Vande Zande

From flip flops to high heels to winter boots, the Eau Claire community answered the call for used shoes.

Sixty-three large packing boxes containing a total of 1,029 pairs of shoes were donated during the recent used shoe drive hosted by McIntyre Library for the non-profit organization, Soles4Souls. The drive was started at UW-Eau Claire in honor of Earth Week, and the team at McIntyre Library kept the process as green as possible throughout the entire collection campaign. During the course of the drive, library staff were also able to collaborate with several local organizations to offer alternate drop-off locations and gather sustainable packing materials.

The Eau Claire Marathon hosted a drop-off site during the Eau Claire Marathon Expo sponsored by Stifel Investments. Race participants and their families were able to donate their used running shoes while gathering information from local vendors.

As part of the green initiative, all of the shoes were packed up for transport to the drop-off site using recycled boxes. Ragstock clothing store, located in Eau Claire’s Oakwood Mall, donated nearly all of the boxes used to pack up the shoes.

In addition to using recycled boxes, all of the containers used by donors to drop off their shoes, including plastic bags, were reused or recycled.

“It was amazing to see the community connections during the whole process,” said Jenna Vande Zande, McIntyre Library services assistant and organizer of the shoe drive. “Almost from day one I started fielding phone calls, emails, and donations from people who wanted to contribute to the drive in some way.

"Whether by donating shoes or offering services from their organization, this drive really was a community event that will directly impact other communities around the U.S. and the globe.”

Vande Zande said the entire McIntyre Library staff extends thanks to everyone who donated shoes and contributed to the success of the Soles4Souls shoe drive.

Soles4Souls is a not-for-profit global social enterprise committed to fighting the devastating impact and perpetuation of poverty. The organization advances its anti-poverty mission by collecting new and used shoes and clothes from individuals, schools, faith-based institutions, civic organizations and corporate partners, then distributing those shoes and clothes both via direct donations to people in need and by provisioning qualified micro-enterprise programs designed to create jobs in poor and disadvantaged communities. Since it began, Soles4Souls has distributed more than 26 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries. Based in Nashville, Tenn., Soles4Souls is committed to the highest standards of operating and governance, and holds a three-star rating with Charity Navigator. Visit www.soles4souls.org for more information.

Photo cutline: Jenna Vande Zande, a library services assistant at McIntrye Library at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, sits atop boxes of shoes donated to the Soles4Souls drive. A total of 1,029 pairs of shoes were donated during the drive, which was orchestrated by Vande Zande and the staff of the McIntyre Library.