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South Dakota 4-H Collecting Gently-Worn Shoes to Help Soles4Souls Fight Global Poverty

January 24, 2019

BROOKINGS, S.D. - SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program has launched a shoe drive to collect 10,000 pairs of new or gently-worn shoes and donate them to Soles4Souls.


“One person’s unwanted shoes can help provide meaningful opportunities that many in developing nations need.”

— Hilary Risner, SDSU Extension Regional 4-H Youth Program Advisor

This shoe drive is the 2018-19 South Dakota 4-H statewide community service project, selected by teen members during the annual SDSU Extension Teen Leadership Conference (TLC).

The shoes donated through this campaign will be delivered to Soles4Souls. Soules4Souls is a non-profit social enterprise that creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world.

The shoes are sold for an average of $1 per pair to non-profit partners in developing countries, that provide business training to local entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs purchase the shoes and are then able to start businesses of their own selling the product in their local marketplaces. This allows entrepreneurs the opportunity to earn a sustainable income, and ultimately purchase necessities like food, shelter and education.

Soles4Souls’ micro-enterprise programs offer a long-term solution to poverty through job creation in places like Haiti, Honduras and Sierra Leone. They also give a second life to unwanted shoes, keeping them out of landfills and protecting the environment.

The income generated by selling just one pair of shoes in Haiti can provide up to five meals for a family in need. Whereas 30 pairs sold by an entrepreneur in Honduras can provide up to a year of schooling for a child.

“To know that we can create meaningful impact around the globe by simply collecting and donating what is otherwise destined for the trash is a really great feeling,” Risner said. 

Revenue generated by Soles4Souls’ micro-enterprise operations funds the organization’s free distribution programs, that provide new shoes to people in need both in the U.S. and around the world.

Founded in 2006, the organization has distributed more than 30 million pairs of new and gently-worn shoes in 127 countries.

The World Bank estimates that approximately 767 million people live on less than $1.90 per day. Many people living in extreme poverty simply do not have access to stable employment.

If South Dakota 4-H members collect 10,000 pairs of shoes to help create sustainable job opportunities in places like Haiti, Honduras and parts of Africa, Soles4Souls will work with South Dakota 4-H to help organize a free shoe distribution with a local non-profit to help people in need in South Dakota.

“Millions of pairs of shoes lay idle in people’s closets,” said Risner. “So help South Dakota 4-H and Soles4Souls by donating the idle shoes in your closet instead, and know that you are taking a step to help disrupt the cycle of poverty around the globe.”

South Dakota 4-H shoe drive for Soles4Souls information:

Between November 19, 2018 and August 1, 2019, bring your new or gently-worn shoes of any kind to your county SDSU Extension/4-H office or nearby SDSU Extension Regional Center.

Addresses of these locations can be found on the About page.

For more information, contact Hilary Risner, at 605.394.1722 or Amber Erickson, at 605.688.4167.

More about Soles4Souls

Soles4Souls disrupts the cycle of poverty by creating sustainable jobs and providing relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the organization repurposes product to supply its micro-enterprise, disaster relief and direct assistance programs. Since 2006, it has distributed more than 30 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries and generated over $250 million in economic impact. A nonprofit social enterprise, Soles4Souls earns more than half of its income and commits 100% of donations to programs. Visit the Souls for Soles website for more information.

a woman trying shoes on a child
Photo courtesy of Soles4Souls.