One locally headquartered nonprofit team spends each workday turning unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunities for others to secure dignity, education and health. Soles4Souls President/CEO Buddy Teaster believes anyone can make positive differences simply from going through personal closets or donating $20.
"Helping someone else, especially when providing kids with new shoes, feels great. What I've come to see time and time again, we don't have to do something huge to make a lasting impact," declares Buddy, who mixes his extensive nonprofit experience with leadership skills and dashes of entrepreneurial initiatives to support the highly skilled Soles4Souls team in assisting people regionally and globally to transform their lives.
In the Nashville region, he says last year the nonprofit provided approximately 2,000 new pairs of shoes to kids experiencing homelessness, and are on track to provide 4,000 pairs this year. For the 4EveryKid program, he says the group works discreetly through school representatives of The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to ensure marginalized youths have shoes. "It's all about helping kids feel they belong among their peer groups. It's one less life-altering factor for them to worry about. It's not their fault they're in really tough spots," he adds
"We also helped victims of the Waverly flood in August with apparel and shoes," Buddy says.
Soles4Souls also is supplying new clothes to an estimated 300 Afghan refugees who are resettling in Nashville after moving through the Department of Homeland Security's vetting process in U.S. and international military camps.
He says thousands of people also are receiving winter coats through the nonprofit's partnership with Macy's.
Due to the volume of materials that Soles4Souls transports, Buddy says they're dedicated to overall higher standards of usage and even have a Sustainability Council.
To get involved with Soles4Souls:
- Donate shoes in good condition, especially athletic shoes.
- Start a shoe drive.
- Volunteer in a donation center.
- Become corporate partners by engaging employees, supporting cause marketing and hosting donation bins.
- Start a fundraising campaign.
Around the world, the nonprofit team typically provides 4 to 5 million pairs of shoes to people in need each year, often through their microenterprise program that helps individuals launch their own businesses by reselling donated clothing and shoes.
One program that Buddy says they hope to do more with during 2022 is the Street Business School, a Colorado-based curriculum that gives women around the world the tools to become entrepreneurs to support themselves and their families. "We were working through this program in Africa, and have now taken it into Central America and the Caribbean," he says.
"It's about doing it together, with everybody winning a little bit," proclaims Buddy.
PLUG INTO HELPING
Through the end of December, Soles4Souls is partnering with the following companies whose leaders are donating to the nonprofit with purchases of these brands:
- Purchase Tree Tribe's best selling eco-bottle and they will donate 20% of all sales to S4S.
- Get free shipping from Yenta + Posha when buying two or more insoles; an additional 5% of all sales benefit Soles4Souls, on top of their regular 5% already donated.
- Use code SOLES at checkout for 15% off entire order at Kayla Elizabeth magnetic clasp shoe jewelry and they will donate 10% of all proceeds from this promotion to the micro-enterprise initiative, helping women step out of poverty by starting their own businesses.
- Buy MaCae casual chic sneakers and they will donate to S4S a $1 of every shoe sold.
- Soles4Souls sells its own merchandise on Soles4Souls.org, including a limited edition sweatshirt benefiting 4EveryKid.