Forest City, Iowa – Over the past three semesters, Waldorf College’s director of intramurals and recreation Brett Geelan has collected almost 2,500 pairs of shoes for donation to Soles4Souls.
A not-for-profit based in Nashville, Tenn., Soles4Souls has been distributing shoes and clothing to poverty- and disaster-stricken areas around the world since 2004. According to its website, the organization disperses the items either directly through orphanages and homeless and abuse shelters or through “qualified micro-enterprise programs designed to create jobs in poor and disadvantaged communities.”
Geelan first learned of the organization when he lived in Cherokee, Iowa. “The Catholic church in town starting working with Soles4Souls,” he explained. “Waldorf’s mission is service, so I thought it’d be a good fit to start a collection here.”
What started out as a semester-long service project at Waldorf College quickly turned into something more. “When we started, my goal was to collect 500 pairs, and I wasn’t sure we’d even get that,” said Geelan. “But it just took off.”
Soon it became a community project with collection boxes at Bill’s Family Foods, Immanuel Lutheran Church, St. James Catholic Church, and the YMCA. He even got a large donation from a woman in Winnebago, Minn.
This summer, Geelan will load a catering van loaned by Brian Keely, Aramark director for campus dining at Waldorf, with hundreds of pairs of shoes to make his third delivery to Village Northwest Unlimited in Sheldon, Iowa. A donation processing center for Soles4Souls, residents at Village Northwest Unlimited sort the shoes into specific categories and prepare them for shipment to Soles4Souls’ outreach center in Alabama.
Reading about the impact the donations have on the lives of people receiving shoes, some for the first time, is Geelan’s favorite part of the project. “We think the shoes are unusable, but they’re like gold to the people getting them.”
Donations for the Waldorf shoe drive can be dropped off at the collection box in the college’s Campus Center until June 24. All types of footwear are accepted, from athletic and dress shoes, to pumps, flip-flops, and work boots.
Contact Geelan at 641-585-8490 with questions about donating. To learn more about Soles4Souls, visit www.soles4souls.org.
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