Rowan partners with Soles4Souls on shoe donation

Shoes donated to Soles4Souls sit waiting to be collected. -Staff Photo/Andrew Turco

Rowan University’s students and faculty partnered with a local organization to donate over 300 pairs of shoes this semester, to be shipped to those in need around the world.

Rowan University’s Office of Parent and Family Connections program collaborated for the first time with Soles4Souls, a non-profit that delivers donated shoes and clothes and provides sustainable jobs and relief. The official count was 311 pairs of shoes that were collected. Among them was a brand new pair of UGG Boots unopened in the box.

Rowan’s main Glassboro campus, Rowan University School of Orthopedic Medicine in Stratford and the Camden campus were all involved in the donation process.

“We wanted to do something to give back to the community,” said Alesha Debose, graduate coordinator for the Office of Student Enrichment and Family Connections.

The idea to collaborate with the non-profit began in August when Debose and Julie Peterson, the director of the Office of Student Enrichment and Family Connections, were looking for an organization that worked directly with those in need.

“Sometimes you can just give to any organization and you don’t really know what the follow up is,” Debose said. “After doing research and everything like that, we said that this is a really excellent initiative to get behind.”

Used shoes, like most of what Rowan donated, are sent to places in Haiti, Sierra Leone, Honduras and Moldova through their micro-enterprise program. The used donations are recorded in a graded system that considers the quality of the shoe and are then taken to the appropriate location.

The micro-enterprise program works with local entrepreneurs to to sell and sustain a valuable business within their community. Rowan students and faculty can follow the micro-entrepreneurs through the Soles4Souls website to see their progress.

The collection began in September, during the time when the wave of devastating hurricanes hit the United States. With some research, Debose found that the organization was also taking action to provide shoes and clothes for the victims of the hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

“[The initiative] became really timely during all of the hurricanes that came through the south and Puerto Rico,” Debose said.

Soles4Souls sent a truckload of new shoes and clothes to be distributed to the areas hit by the recent hurricanes. The organization creates their own initiative for those affected by natural disasters. None of the used shoes that Rowan donated will be sent to the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma or Maria because Soles4Souls gives only brand new shoes to those who are suffering from a natural disaster.

“We strongly believe that anyone who is suffering through a disaster or who are just living under the poverty line deserve new stuff,” said Lizzy Swiderski, Soles4Souls’ Regional Donation Manager in New Jersey.

Swiderski plans to pick up the shoes at Rowan on Monday afternoon from The Office of Student Enrichment and Family Connections in Savitz Hall.

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