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YWCA Partners with World Soles – Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

By Jackie Jones, YWCA Minneapolis Intern
July 14, 2017
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Do you have a closet overflowing with old shoes you don’t wear anymore? Bring them down to any one of the three YWCA Minneapolis fitness locations in the month of July and donate them to a great cause! If you are looking to join YWCA Minneapolis, bring in a pair of shoes to donate and pay only $39 to join!

Now Collecting ALL Shoes!

YWCA Minneapolis is partnering with World Soles for the third year to collect and donate as many pairs of shoes as possible. Over the past two years, YWCA Minneapolis has collected more than 2,000 pairs of shoes for World Soles! Up until now World Soles has only collected used tennis shoes, but this year they are looking for any kind of shoe except high heels and winter boots. With the widened pool of donations, we look forward to making this our biggest donation year yet!

Chris Armstrong, co-founder of World Soles, explained that YWCA Minneapolis has been with them since the beginning. World Soles has only been around for about three years and YWCA Minneapolis was their first major partner who dedicated a lot of time and organizational resources to collecting donations. Chris said, “YWCA Minneapolis members are without a doubt our #1 donor body throughout the year.” He also added that they feel “blessed by the relationship we have.” Chris really enjoys going to each YWCA Minneapolis location to collect the shoes (usually filling up his entire car) and hearing the stories about how much members love giving their shoes to a good cause.

World Soles collecting shoes at YWCA Women’s Triathlon

How Are the Shoes Used?

Now what happens to the shoes that are donated? As mentioned earlier, Chris goes around to each YWCA Minneapolis fitness location weekly and collects the shoes. These are then sorted into three areas: they either go to micro-businesses in Africa, are used for disaster relief or are recycled and repurposed into things such as roads or playgrounds.

World Soles decided to go into micro-businesses because giving shoes away for free was actually found to be limiting growth in developing communities. These micro-businesses allow local residents in countries with limited economic opportunities to trade and work through the sale and distribution of these shoes. World Soles has relationships with Cameroon, Ghana and Ethiopia to distribute the donated shoes.

Collecting 30,000 Shoes and Counting

Through their work, World Soles is living out their mission: “To improve economic and health outcomes in developing nations, support the social causes of our partners and reduce waste.” Over their short life-span they have already collected 30,000 pairs of shoes.