The new and used shoe drive starts of at Earth Claire event at UW-Eau Claire

The shoe drive goes through Soles4Souls to donate collected shoes all over the world

Cade Fisher

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Photo by Cade Fisher

The shoe drive will go to the end of the semester to allow for students to donate any shoes they don’t need when they are packing to move.

McIntyre Library and the Student Office of Sustainability, or SOS, have worked together to create the fourth annual Soles4Souls shoe drive.

Starting at Earth Claire on Monday, the UW-Eau Claire shoe drive will continue until the end of the spring semester. Students and staff are able to drop off their shoes at the library all semester to be donated.

Jenna Vande Zande, a user services in communications library assistant, has been helping coordinate the drive by working with SOS and the organization where the shoes will be donated. She has also been helping determine what shoes can be donated.

“It’s any shoes, any size, any style and really any wear and tear. It’s new and used shoes,” Vande Zande said. “The metric Soles4Souls uses for what they would consider gently used is if you’d borrow it to a friend.”

According to the Soles4Souls website, the company works to collect shoes and clothing items to give relief, fight poverty and protect the planet.

This company started as a hurricane relief effort after Hurricane Katrina, according to their website. They then continued to collect shoes and have expanded to most clothing items.

The company takes the items they have collected and donates them to homeless people, sell them to micro-enterprises in less developed countries to be resold or incinerate too-worn items so they don’t end up in a landfill.

Also, according to their website the company has donated a total of 73,310,172 pairs of shoes and clothing at the time of this article being written. 

Soles4Souls has multiple ways for people to get involved on their website. They allow individuals and organizations to create shoe drives, donate shoes, become ambassadors for the company, partner with them, fundraise and volunteer.

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Americans throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes a year. These shoes end up in garbage dumps and landfills and the shoes take 30-40 years to decompose.

Mcintyre Library and the SOS put on this shoe drive to prevent shoes from going into landfills or going to companies that “say” they will be recycled.

“Shoes are made with so many different versions of plastics and rubbers now, it’s almost impossible to pull them back apart into their basic parts once they are put together,” Vande Zande said.

The shoe drive works with Soles4Souls as an ethically sourced opportunity to donate shoes across the globe for those in need. 

Evelyn Nelson, the media intern at the Student Office of Sustainability, has been helping with the Earth Claire event where the Soles4Souls shoe drive will start.

“You’re able to join the library’s table at the event and all shoes donated to this drive will turn shoes into a reusable opportunity that people around the world can use,” Nelson said.

The shoe drive in the past three years has collected over 3,200 pairs of shoes according to the event page

Again, the drive will be continuing until the end of the semester and all donations can be made at Mcintyre Library whenever the library is open.

Fisher can be reached at [email protected]