Fifth annual UW-Eau Claire shoe drive

Soles4Souls begins during Earth month and continues until the end of the semester

Cade Fisher

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Photo by Cade Fisher

The shoe collection bin is currently available on the first floor of McIntyre Library.

UW-Eau Claire’s McIntyre Library and Student Office of Sustainability hosted the fifth annual Soles4Souls shoe drive.

Soles4Souls is an organization that takes new and used shoes and donates them to help those in need, according to its website.

The organization currently takes any donated shoes and sends them to one of three places. Some of the shoes are donated to the 4Relief fund. These shoes are donated to those in crisis situations who need shoes, which aids in alleviating some of their financial burdens.

The second place the shoes are donated to is 4Opportunity. This donation type sends the shoes to nonprofit organizations in developing countries, helping them start new businesses and support their country’s economy.

The final place the shoes are donated is 4EveryKid. This organization sends the shoes to schools around the U.S. to help children in sports and extracurricular activities. 

Soles4Souls offers numerous ways for people to support their organization, according to their website. Individuals can donate their shoes directly, start a shoe drive, volunteer with the organization, give money, partner with the organization or travel with the organization.

According to UW-Eau Claire’s Administrative Office of Sustainability (AOS), the Soles4Souls shoe drive began on April 24, helping start off Green Week on campus.

The shoe drive accepts any and all shoe donations, and the drive will continue until May 19, the last day of the semester.

As of Thursday, May 4, the drive had collected almost 200 pairs of shoes, according to organizers. 

Lillian Strehlow, the sustainability specialist at UW-Eau Claire, said the shoe drive helps take a lot of shoes that would otherwise go into the landfill and recycles them.

“It really brings together the environment, the economic side of things and the equity portion of things, which when you bring those three together, that’s what a true sustainability project is,” Strehlow said.

At the time of publication, Soles4Souls had donated 83,125,729 pairs of shoes, according to their website. 

The organization is currently hosting a race to raise funds for more shoes to be donated to kids in need. The Race4EveryKid allows participants to sign up to walk, run, swim or bike to raise money for more shoes. 

At the time of publication, 2,343 miles had been logged for the race and $121,790 had been raised. The event began on May 1 and will continue until May 31.

According to Strehlow, AOS and the UW-Eau Claire campus hope to make the university carbon-neutral by 2050. The organizations are planning to get more sustainability topics into classrooms to promote more ways for the campus to be sustainable.

“Having this opportunity to divert a waste stream and to bring so much of our community into the project cause, you know, faculty, staff, students and even some local churches, I think, participate in this shoe drive,” Strehlow said. “It really brings together our campus and wider community in a powerful way.”

Fisher can be reached at [email protected].