Features Editor: Savannah Phillips
One of the top-rated nonprofits in the country, Soles4Souls, has had a
faithful volunteer in Wingate University since 2017. Implemented on
campus as a service-learning project, students who are enrolled in the
“Business 105: Business, Society and Sustainability” course are required
to collect 50 pairs of shoes each semester.
Founded and based in Nashville, Tenn., the 16-year-old nonprofit
receives shoe and clothing donations from individuals, community-
donation drives and prominent retailers like DSW Shoe Warehouse,
Crocs and Zappos. There are four main programs through which it
disperses the shoes: providing relief, fighting poverty, protecting the
planet and empowering women. The mission is to turn unwanted shoes
and clothing into opportunity, and Soles4Souls has collected more than
83 million shoes and pieces of clothing thus far during its existence.
At Wingate alone, 15,252 pairs of shoes have been collected in six years
by 321 students. This semester’s goal is to gather 2,150 pairs of shoes.
Professor Gwen Bothun, who teaches the Business 105 course,
explained that many students are wary when they see the number of
shoes they are expected to collect and believe it’s an impossible task.
“Sometimes the best way to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes is to let
them walk in yours,” Bothun said. “Despite their understandable doubts,
most students do manage to meet the goal, or come very close to it, and
some even exceed it!”
Dr. Sergio Castello, the dean of the Porter B. Byrum School of Business,
boxes the donations and sees that they are received by Soles4Souls.
Then, it delivers them throughout the U.S. and the world.
“I like to show the impact of the class in terms of people, planet and
profits,” Castello said. “We have donated 15,252 pairs of shoes helping
15,252 people. We have avoided sending 18,302 pounds of shoes to the
landfill and have donated $106,764 worth of shoes.”
The website, http://www.soles4souls.org, transparently shows how raised
money is invested in the nonprofit’s mission. Soles4Souls has many
other options for those who want to help, ranging from donations to shoe
Whether they’re new or gently-loved, Soles4Souls has taken a world’s
worth of old shoes to help protect the planet and lift people out of
poverty—and Wingate business students continue to play a meaningful
role in that.