Sunday, February 01, 2009

It's Party Time - Are You In?

Last fall I learned of an organization called Soles4Souls; their mission is to impact as many lives as possible with the gift of shoes. Let me explain how it all works, it’s highly complex, so put on your thinking cap and take a sip of your coffee.

They get (new or used) shoes and they ship them off to places where people have none.

Did you follow that? Shoes. as in the shoes that you and I throw away at the end of each season, yeah those. The ones that you loved in the store, but then hated after you wore them because they rubbed your heel wrong, or they made your feet look too big, or they were too trendy, or your kid never wore them because they only wanted to wear Elmo Slippers all season. Those shoes.

Brilliant, right? I fell in love with this concept immediately because it so darn sensible. I thought it would be great to host a “shoe party” and have guests bring a pair of shoes. However the timing was off, I had just had the Operation Christmas Child party and didn’t want people to think I was a whacko for having two charity parties in a row, so I put the idea aside for a while. The problem is that when I put the idea aside, something happened to it…it grew and got all crazy-like. So here is what it looks like now: (are you sitting down?)

We’re going to plan a shoe party. Yeah, you and me, together. I don’t care if you just came to lurk today, I see you reading and I’m talking to you. Don’t be scared.

So this is what I’m thinking. We’ll plan to have our respective shoe parties somewhere between May 1st and June 30th and see how many shoes we can collectively raise for Soles4Souls. Then we drop our bounties off at one of Soles4Souls nationwide collection spots, you leave me a comment telling me how many you raised, I add your number to the total and well-ah, mission accomplished!

This is going to be fun, trust me. Ideas have been brewing. We can have a barefoot theme or a sneaker theme, or a flip flop theme, or no theme. A cocktail party, or a pool party, or a birthday party, heck, you can have a strip poker party for all I care, as long as your guests bring a pair of shoes with them. The shoes are the key, everything else is....well...not the key.

I know you didn’t expect to have to commit to something today, and chances are, you are welling up with all sort of deflective response thoughts. You may even resemble one of the personality types below, but read on, let me comfort you in your time of distress:

The 1000 Reasoner: “my house is too small, I don’t know who I’d invite, I hate cooking”. The Answer: Convince one of your friends to host a wine-tasting party and you bring the wine and cheese! Easy!
The Non-planner: “would love to have a party, but I’m not good at planning these things”. The Answer: No worries, over the next few months I’ll guide you through this process, including super-easy invites (evites), food ideas, grocery lists, etc.. Or if you are the party-planning type, maybe you can guide me through the process!
The Sophisticate: “I don’t have kids and my friends are too sophisticated to come to a silly little shoe party”. The Answer: You can call it a “benefit” and if your friends are really sophisticated, charge a ridiculous amount of money for admittance. Grown ups love to go to benefits – it makes them feel good about themselves (and rightly so!). Benefits are a win/win. The people who go have a good time and get loaded up on dip and hors devours and people across the world benefit by getting shoes. Don’t you just love a win/win?
The Limited Giver: “I have other charities that I care about, I can’t get into collecting shoes now”. The Answer: First of all, so do I – you and me, we have so much in common. Don’t think of this as another charitable initiative, this is a public service party. Everyone has shoes that become outgrown or out-of-style or whatever. Those shoes clutter up people’s closets and mudrooms and basements and under their beds and they basically wreck their lives. Yeah, they do. So this is where you come in, wearing your superperson cape. They get your invite in the mail, calling for shoes and a good time, and they go through their old shoes and bring them to you with a big smile on their face and a new lease on life. You rock!
The Low-Funded: “I would love to participate, but I’m on a tight budget”. The Answer: You are the luckiest of all! All you have to do is host a large playdate. Yeah, so simple. So you invite 10 kids over to play, tell all the moms that you’re collecting shoes for charity and you’ll gladly take their old shoes off their hands and watch their kids for a few hours at the same time. You serve fun-shaped peanut-butter and jelly and/or grilled cheese sandwiches and chips – the universal food of toddlers. You, my friend, are a hero., you can request a tax receipt from soles4souls for your donation, you lucky thing, you!
The Refuser: "No way, not doing it. I love you girl, but I am so not going to do this". The Answer: [silence] I'm never talking to you again. Just kidding, of course. You can still participate by buying shoes (donating online at souls4soles). They cost $5 for each pair. Your financial support is so appreciated, just let me know how many you bought so I can add the number to our total! Just promise me you won't be jealous when you see all the pictures of our shoe parties!

Oh, and this is why we care: Millions of people do not have shoes. People who don’t have shoes are susceptible to all kinds of disease and illness. One terrible disease is Podoconiotis (click only if you dare), caused by barefoot exposure to Silica-rich soil. Silica is an ancient volcanic glass that penetrates the skin and makes it’s way to the lymphatic system. It’s awful to see children with this terrible, preventable disease, and shoes are the cure.

Shoes. So simple, yet so powerful.

This photograph makes my heart hurt, but it illustrates so much.

Photo courtesy of

This photo hurts my all my good senses. Seriously, is there any reason a three-year old should have so many shoes ....all of which, will be outgrown by summer? ...the good news is that through soles4souls, these shoes will make seven children happy (and healthy).

So, are you in?


MaineMom said...

Shoe-t. I can't think of a reason why not.

It sounds shoe-per fun. Shoe-ly I can do this.

The Grahams said...

I'm in!

I can get the MOMs group of Windham involved. I bet these moms have TONS of kids shoes that they can donate!

Lo said...

well, this sucks. bc the closest donation location to me? is in wisconsin. btw i live in illinois.

would you forgive me if i just donated more again?? i really was hoping to avoid goin' up north.

Megan said...

I'm totally in!

I just so happen to be carrying around today a pair of nice warm boots handed down from a friend that my sister didn't want, plus I have several more in my closet I don't wear! I love this idea...and look forward to your help along the way :)