A shoe drive to help people in crisis around the world will be part of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) outreach efforts during its 2011 Leadership Conference.
SHRM is working with Soles4Souls Inc., a charitable organization based in Old Hickory, Tenn., to collect new and lightly used shoes from employees at SHRM, the SHRM Foundation, HR Certification Institute and conference attendees.
The shoes are distributed to victims of natural disasters and others in dire need, such as people at shelters, missions and refugee camps.
Soles4Souls was founded in 2005 shortly after the tsunami hit Southeast Asia. Since then it has given shoes to people in more than 127 countries. More than 16 million shoes had been distributed around the world as of Oct. 2, 2011, according to the group’s website.
Slightly more than half of donations have gone to people in the United States, such as the more than 1 million pairs to people along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina hit their area in August 2005.
SHRM is joining a long list of donors that have included footwear companies, retailers, houses of worship, civic groups, schools, individuals, businesses and nonprofit ministries that contribute shoes for disaster relief and to people living in poverty.
In addition to contributing shoes, SHRM employees can help prepare the donations for shipping to Soles4Souls’ World Outreach Center in Alabama where shoes will be sorted and sent out, said Lisa Orndorff, manager of employee relations at SHRM.
A variety of footwear is accepted—athletic and running footwear, dress shoes, sandals, heels, work boots, cleats, dance shoes, flip-flops and mate-less shoes.
Shoes not appropriate for disaster relief—such as high heels—and shoes that need cleaning or refurbishing are used to support micro-enterprises in Africa and Central and South America. Micro-enterprise programs are charitable programs designed to help impoverished people gain resources to start and maintain their own businesses. Those in such programs use the shoes as resources, selling or bartering them to provide for themselves and their families, according to the organization’s website.
SHRM’s shoe drive is slated for Nov. 7-21, 2011; the Leadership Conference is slated for Nov. 17-19 in Arlington, Va.
Volunteer leaders attending the conference will find collection bins at the hotels where they will be staying as well as at SHRM headquarters.
Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News.