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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Soles4Souls

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Disaster Aid, Emergency Assistance, Human Services, International, International Development, Public Safety, Disaster Preparedness & Relief

Mission: Soles4Souls creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world.

Community Stories

72 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Rebecca Berkeley B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I traveled with my 10 year old daughter (celebrated 11 during the travel) on the Guatemala trip. This experience was so incredibly transformative for both of us. There is nothing that can compare to serving along side your child in this way. S4S had personal relationships and partnerships in country that provided access to places we'd never seen without having been a part of this trip. We traveled from remote mountain tops to more urban city centers and experienced the needs of all of these communities. The travel group allowed for close connections and created friendships that I will have for a lifetime. The greatest testament to this organization is the fact that everyone else in my group had been on multiple trips before. I cannot say enough positive things. This trip and our leader Tiffany had major impact. I have never met such big hearted people. We will be traveling with them again!

Comments ( 1 )

S4S Team Rebecca, thank you for your incredible support and for allowing us to be a part of your family. We look forward to many more trips together so we can make this world a better place one shoe at a time. Forever grateful to you.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the tremendous honor of traveling to serve with Soles4Souls the past two years. They are so organized and so passionate about the work that they do that it makes it incredibly easy to dive in and fully give yourself to the children and communities that we get to visit. There are never any worries about the travel or in-country logistics - you show up, you give shoes and you give yourself to creating a bond that will last a lifetime and will hopefully lead to growth and a better future for these underserved communities. S4S creates this environment of compassion that has left me taking away so much more than I could ever imagine. The work I am able to do on these trips makes me want to always strive to do more. I can't thank Soles4Souls enough for the relationships I have created and the opportunities to go outside of my comfort zones. First class organization and I cannot wait to serve more with them in the future.

Will McCaskill, Nashville Predators

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I met a wonderful six year old girl in Honduras who had autism. She loved wearing sunglasses and having people around her. We played catch, colored, and even showed her how to use a fidget spinner. While we were playing catch, she was throwing perfectly. I have never seen a better thrower but I still managed to miss the ball one time. The ball rolled under the trampoline and when she got up, I assumed she was going to get the ball. Instead, she jumped into my arms and wrapped me in a huge bear hug. I became so overwhelmed with emotions that I began to cry. She showed me that we should just love each other and eliminate judgment which would make the world a better place. Her simple hug has changed my life forever and has helped me grow as a young adult.

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S4S Team 09/24/2018

Thanks for this beautiful story and for sharing your love with this little girl and all of the children you met. You have already made the world a better place and we are so grateful to be a small part of that.

1 Polina P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I went to Jamaica with Soles4Souls, I had no idea what to expect. I had never been on a volunteering trip, I had never been to Jamaica, and some of the people that were in my team, I had never spoken to in the 2 years that I’ve been at Rutgers. I never expected to have had my heart filled with so much love and gratitude, least of all by a little 5 year old boy called Marky. We did a lot of amazing things on our trip, including sorting and organizing over 500 pairs of shoes to distribute to people, visited Montego Bay Infant School and the Child Development Agency at St. Johns Church
Hall to distribute shoes, visited Elgin Town Basic School in Lucea where we built a playground fence for the children, so that they had a safe place to play outside; and many other wonderful cultural immersions.

All of these activities and events were as beautifully humbling as the other, but none compared to when we went to the infant school. Of course it was our first exposure to such mission work an it would arguably be the most impactful because of it being our first job, but it genuinely was the most memorable and impactful for me due to the experience.
Marky was one of the children that sat with me to be fitted for shoes. The moment he sat down across from me, I could see that this child’s smile was overflowing with light and happiness. Something as simple as some new shoes to play in made him light up the whole room with his giggles and smile. It was beautiful.

After giving out the shoes, we were able to play with the children in the school yard. Their playground was not much bigger than the size of a standard classroom and was dotted with some basic stations for the children to play on - some slides, a see-saw, a couple of climbing frames and some swing sets. It wasn’t a lot, but the children made use of every single station with the most enlightening shrieks of delight and smiles so wide, that it was impossible not to smile back.
Marky instantly found me on the playground and invited me to come and play with him and his friends all over the place. We went on the slides, the monkey bars, played kitchen in the climbing frame, went on the seesaw and ended up under a tree in the shade to hide away from the glaring morning sun. When we were called in to take a picture together and bid our final farewells, Marky ran off, instructing me to wait for a moment that I never expected would change the way that I see my life now. Upon his return, he ran towards me with excitement and the same inning smile on his face that he had when he first put on his new pair of shoes. In his hand he was waving money at me, saying “here this is for you, take it”. My heart absolutely melted… That this child, who doesn’t know me, who clung to me, hugging me and playing with me as if I was long a member of his family, was coming to give me money, simply because I gave him some new shoes and for being a playmate for an hour so.

I was so taken aback because I was simply giving with no expectation of anything in return, yet this little boy, with very little time on this earth was so kind as to want to give, what I imagine to be his pocket money, possibly one of the few things of value that he has to me. Simply for giving him love and being a friend for him. It really made me think of the genuine childhood kindness that comes deep from within our human natures. That it is such a natural instinct to want to give and provide, and that giving even the smallest thing, can mean the world to others… And albeit it may be considered a very small moment, perhaps of minuscule meaning to others, for me, it turned my world upside down. I am more conscious to take time to appreciate the things and people that I have around me, the resources that are so easily available to us and perhaps not so to others, and am conscious of what I can do to help those around me, what abilities and resources do I have that I can give to others. Marky will never really know how much of an impact he has had on me and the way I see my life, but I hope that the people that I help in the future will. Marky’s story will never stop living on for me, and as long as I keep giving as much as I can, I know that I will be doing my best for Marky, for myself and most importantly for others. I wish only that others will hopefully pursue a mission trip or some community service throughout their lives to get even the slightest piece of enlightenment that I know my entire group got from this journey. I can wholeheartedly say that we have all left Jamaica finding more of ourselves in others, and giving even more. I hope that this reaches as many people as possible and will hopefully put across just how much everyone can make a huge impact in the world with a little bit of love."

- Polina

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S4S Team 09/24/2018

Polina, wow! Thanks for sharing your story. So grateful for your service. Our team, Marky and all of those whom we met in Jamaica were changed by your generosity of spirit. Thank you.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In May 2018 I was given the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with Soles4Souls and 10 student-athletes from Iowa State University. As a men's basketball staff member I don't have the opportunity to spend much time with other athletes. This trip was a chance for me to serve some people in need, step out of my comfort zone and get to know some of our student athletes. I was able to accomplish all of that and more!!

First off, the organization and communication of our on the ground support, Kristen Schwartz, was amazing!! She helped prepare us for the trip without divulging so much that there were still pleasant surprises. I was even more impressed when I met Kristen in person and found out the total number trips she was personally responsible for. She treated us like we were her number one priority! Kristen is a rockstar and I feel like her ability to connect with the student-athletes and staff were her best qualities. The longer we were on the trip, the more respect I gained for her! She has a unique skillset that sets her a part from anyone else I have ever worked with in this capacity.

As for the impact the trip had on our athletes and myself I can tell you that it was noticeable from the first day. I mentioned earlier that not only did not know many of the athletes participating, they didn't know each other very well either. That was erased on day one when we broke the ice and participated in our first distribution. I was so proud to see our athletes not only showing genuine interest in the kids and staff but they also were trying their best to lear Spanish!

My experience was personally amazing! Not only was I able to meet new people and serve others but I was able to really experience genuine relationships with our athletes. We all shared personal stories and experiences.

The lasting memory that I will carry with me the most is our entire team sitting in a circle sharing our stories from the day. When I run into the athletes on campus we all make time to say hello and catch up. We will always have this bond and I'm honored to have been a part of their experience!

Micah Byars

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S4S Team 09/24/2018

Micah, thanks to you and all the students for joining us. You are each a very special part of the Soles4Souls family. We are grateful for your service in Costa Rica and support to help those most in need. Go Cyclones!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Everything was absolutely incredible. Our group leader, Kristen, was so organized, kind, helpful, and supportive in every single way. The trip was so smooth and well planned. The experience was the greatest experience I have ever had in my life. There is nothing better than what I did with this nonprofit.

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S4S Team 09/24/2018

So grateful to be a part of this journey with you. Thank you for your service. We look forward to the next trip!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've had the opportunity to travel with S4S twice internationally-Haiti, Honduras as well as domestically-Nashville, Atlanta. Both experiences were impactful on the local communities where folks are fighting to live day by day and lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty. All on the trip were impacted as well about the boots on the ground work that S4S does with it local partners to distribute shoes/clothes. All on S4S staff truly embrace the mission of "wearing out poverty". Proud to be associated with each of them!

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S4S Team 08/28/2018

We are proud of YOUR incredible service on our Board. Thanks for all of your support.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Our organization, ReEstablish Richmond, were recipients of donations from Soles4Souls for our annual event called World Refugee Day. On this day, we invite individuals from the diverse groups of refugee communities in Richmond, Virginia and connect them to important resources in the community as well as an opportunity to celebrate their new journey with food, entertainment, and family fun. Soles4Souls not only provided shoe donations for our refugee families, their staff and volunteers provided support for distribution on the day of the event and helped promote our work in the media. They helped make our event successful and we are grateful!

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S4S Team 08/15/2018

Thank you for allowing us to participate in this wonderful event. We were honored to partner with you and look forward to a long friendship!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Soles4Souls is a first rate organization. I have had the opportunity to travel with them on a couple of occasions and it has been excellent. They take care of all the little details most will not think of until it is upon them. I have been on several other mission trips and was pleasantly surprised at how well organized Soles4Souls was. From transportation to meals, whether we ate in a local town or at the hotel, it was all planned perfectly. They gained access to communities, orphanages and schools most groups would not have access to. This has a lot to do with their local partnerships with people in the communities they seek to serve. I will be going on many more trips with Soles4Souls. They have become an extended family.

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S4S Team 08/10/2018

Thank you so much for your kind words and for your incredible partnership! We are so grateful for your support of those making their way out of poverty. We look forward to your next trip!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Soles4Souls mission is to Wear Out Poverty. The amazing team and group of volunteers is doing a spectacular job to make that happen! I have had the opportunity of traveling with S4S multiple times and I can’t say enough great things. I would highly recommend both traveling with them and donating to their mission.

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S4S Team 08/09/2018

Milledge, your vision and guidance are driving forces for our mission. Thank you for your incredible support!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have the privilege of working with Soles4Souls as our donation charity partner. The team has been nothing short of amazing! They are open and honest, responsive, and incredibly easy to work with. In January 2017, I had to opportunity to join Soles4Souls on a giving trip in Haiti ... the trip was eye-opening, humbling, rewarding and life changing. Seeing first-hand how people's generous donations of shoes (that would likely otherwise end up in a landfill) can literally pull less fortunate folks out of poverty was very emotional and re-iterated how important the work we're doing together really is. All of that to say that, on all levels Soles4Souls is outstanding and I cannot say enough good things about them!

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S4S Team 08/08/2018

Thank you so very much for your incredible partnership. You are an integral part of our mission to help those in need. Our work would not be possible without you!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Soles4Souls does an amazing job of collecting shoes in our community. The Sports Center of Richmond has been a great spot to donate and collect shoes for Soles4Souls.

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S4S Team 08/07/2018

We are so grateful for your partnership and thank you for helping us fulfill our mission to help those making their way out of poverty!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Soles4Souls donated 100s of pairs of new shoes to our World Refugee Community Resources fair. Recipients of the shoes were so excited about being able to find new shoes for each member of their family! Their staff were easy to work with and very responsive to the needs of the refugee community.
Kate Ayers, Executive Director, Re-Establish Richmond

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S4S Team 08/07/2018

Kate, we are so grateful for your partnership. So glad we could make a difference on World Refugee Day! Look forward to a long friendship. Thanks for all you do.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter and I just went to Guatemala on her 5th, and my 4th trip with Soles4Souls. We love this organization and the work they do. We go to help give - but we always receive far more in return. Soles4Souls has a wonderful mission and it is one we will continue to support in as many ways as we can for as long as we can.

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S4S Team 08/06/2018

Thanks so much to the both of you for joining us. We are so grateful for your support of our mission. Here's to many more adventures together!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I just returned from Guatemala, from my fifth trip with Soles4Souls. I cannot say enough great things about this non-profit and the work they do, both in the U. S. and all over the world. The travel experience is unforgettable and you are helping them to continue their mission of giving shoes and giving love. If you have wanted to do one of these trips, you will be overjoyed at making the decision to travel with them.

Check their website out, subscribe to their weekly email to find out what all they are doing, host a shoe drive. This organization helps out when disasters hit, they provide coats and socks to those in need. They've given shoes to the homeless. They are THERE for any circumstance!!

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S4S Team 08/06/2018

Forever grateful for your support of all those making their way out of extreme poverty. Thank you for giving of your time, talent and treasure to make the world a better place.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We traveled with S4S to Honduras in May 2018. My son participated in the S4S capstone course at his high school, and I decided to go on the trip with him. We had never been to Central America, and our experience was outstanding. The work was hard, and I learned Spanish out of necessity. The most amazing part of the trip was seeing my son learn about social entrepreneurship at the most basic level. Returning to the states was a stark contrast to a few days interacting with people living in tin shacks -- no access to sanitation, running water, or electricity. When an orphaned child sits down in front of you, and you begin with "¿Cómo te llamas?" while washing and putting shoes on their feet, your perspective changes. We made some great friends, saw incredible things, and our Spanish improved out of necessity. We are planning to go on another trip, and I highly recommend S4S.

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S4S Team 08/01/2018

Barry, thanks to the both of you for joining us on this incredible journey. We are most fortunate to have you as our friends!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter and I went on this trip together to Guatemala in July of 2017. What an incredible trip it was for both of us!! We received more from this experience than we gave!! The one on one connections we were able to make with the kids was a special memory I will always cherish. Being able to touch and wash their dirty worn feet, to seeing their eyes light up and their smiles stretch across their faces when they received their very own new pair of shoes was absolutely priceless!! Not only did we get to make an impact in others lives, but they made a huge difference in ours!
Another blessing was serving along side some amazing women and the special friendships that were made. Soles4Souls and our team leader Taylar Proctor did an incredible job planning and leading our team. Those five days were a life changer for me!! Thank you Soles4Souls for touching the lives of many!

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S4S Team 03/29/2018

Thank you so much for sharing your incredible passion for good with us. We appreciate you!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The California State University (CSU) with its twenty-three campuses and 480,000+ students is the largest public higher education system in the US. Not surprisingly, the CSU-Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association (CSU-ERFA) is the largest organization of retired and emeritus faculty in the nation. Given the unanticipated honor of being elected to serve as President of CSU-ERFA, I have proposed a number of goals. One of them, which is very important to me, is the CSU Million Shoe Campaign in partnership with Soles4Souls (S4S). My co-chair for this endeavor is Emeritus Professor, Barbara Sinclair.

We piloted the S4S shoe drive at my home campus (CSU Dominguez Hills) over a year ago. Building on the lessons we learned, we expanded to CSU Los Angeles, Cal Poly Pomona, and San Diego State. This academic year the 38,000-student Cal State Long Beach campus is going to join the ranks. Barbara and I are working with the S4S staff to recruit other CSU campuses to implement this indirect and non-monetary approach to fighting poverty.

Obviously, the major goal of the S4S program is to provide shoes for those who lack any or adequate footwear. However, doing it at a university has a number of other important advantages. It is a campus-wide project involving students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and corporate donors. It also allows the campus to reach out into the community and collect shoes from local schools and cities as well as churches, synagogues, temples, gyms, and a vast variety of other types of organizations. The public relations and organizational pay-offs have been incredible. Let’s fight poverty collectively!!!

Barbara and I, in conjunction with the S4S staff, would love to work with colleges and universities throughout the country to expand the marvelous program!!

~Bill Blischke

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S4S Team 10/03/2017

Thank you, Bill and Barbara, for all these years of great support. We appreciate you and our partnership!

1 briana_marie

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Soles for souls does an amazing job not only giving shoes for providing care for their recipients! They have fantastic organization, communication and follow through with their partners as well as volunteers!
I have worked with them as a photographer and as a volunteer for multiple trips and cannot say enough positive things about the entire staff !

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S4S Team 10/02/2017

Briana, we appreciate you so much! Thank you for your incredible support all these years.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked with Soles4Souls in various different ways. First when I was working with a start-up "business for good" company. Soles4Souls was one of our non-profit partners and one of my favorite to work with. They have a powerful and direct mission, great staff, and wonderful media that conveys their work to supporters. Soles4Souls goes above and beyond to make sure the work they are doing is serving each individual community in a helpful and meaningful way. Additionally they monitor and update their programs to stay up to date with ever evolving community needs. I recently also got to travel to Haiti with Soles4Souls. I was impressed by the contacts they have made and their allowance to let local leaders guide Soles4Souls' work based on what they know would help their community. As for my background, I have a degree in International Studies and have experience with a number of non-profits, foundations, and "business for good". Soles4Souls is one of the best and sets a standard for both stepping back and letting local leaders guide their work and constantly evolving in order to stay in touch with each community they work in and it's specific needs.

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S4S Team 08/19/2017

Thanks Logan! We’re so grateful for your voice and all the ways you’ve partnered with us over the years.