Sept. 13, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. - More than 300 million children around the world live each day without shoes, prompting the student-athletes at the University of Kansas to do something about it. The Jayhawks responded in a big way to a challenge by the KU Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), collecting more than 1,500 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls.
For the past four weeks Jayhawk teams have been collecting the shoes in boxes in their locker rooms. Due to an overwhelming response of donations the boxes were overflowing and shoes were piled up in heaps.
The donated shoes are going to the Tennessee based non-profit Soles4Souls, which was started in response to the 2004 tsunami that hit Southeast Asia. Soles4Souls collects new shoes to give relief to the victims of abject suffering and collects used shoes to support micro-business efforts to eradicate poverty.
Monday evening at the SAAC meeting all of the shoes were combined in the Booth Hall of Athletics. SAAC’s goal was to collect 1,000 pairs, but that mark was eclipsed thanks to an inter-squad challenge to see who could collect the most shoes. The KU volleyball team was the winner of the competition, contributing 257 pairs collected by the 17-person team.
Donating the shoes turned out to be the easy part. At Monday night’s meeting, 75 KU student-athletes sorted the shoes, bound them together with rubber bands, then packed them into 24 boxes. The boxes had to be weighed and could not exceed 70 pounds. The student-athletes then put a note in each box and wrote “disaster relief” on the side.
Allison Mayfield, a senior on the volleyball team, was proud to participate in something that will have a world wide effect.
“We all have shoes that we don’t wear any more and they just sit in our closet,” Mayfield said. “This was a simple yet profound way to come together and make a big impact in people’s lives all over the world. At our last home tournament all the girls (volleyball team) encouraged their families to go through their closets and bring in their old shoes to the game to help contribute to our collection.”
According to estimates provided by Soles4Souls, there are more than 1.5 billion pairs of shoes lying idle in American closets, many of which can be saved from landfills with a donation to organizations like Soles4Souls.