By Zach Smith
The Florida Southern student-athletes are going beyond the field of play to support the city of Lakeland and global communities by partnering with Soles4Souls.
FSC’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has recently sponsored an on-campus shoe drive, and all shoes will be donated to Soles4Souls. Soles4Souls is a non-profit global charity that collects new and gently-used shoes and donates them to people around the world that are in need of footwear.
SAAC member and cross country runner Emilie Flament approached her fellow SAAC members about starting the shoe drive. Flament said each of 40 cross country runners receives three pairs of shoes each year, and those shoes are constantly discarded for new pairs.
Flament said she wanted to find a way to put those discarded shoes to use.
SAAC president and women’s lacrosse player Jackson Marshall said she immediately supported Flament’s desire to help those in need of footwear. Marshall and her teammates have witnessed the positive impact of donating goods to the impoverished community first-hand.
While in Denver, Colo., for the 2016 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse National Championship, Marshall and the women’s lacrosse team bought and passed out over 100 pairs of socks to the homeless community. Marshall said the response from those receiving the socks was heartwarming.
“The reaction we got from just handing socks out, not even shoes, and socks go under the shoes, was unbelievable. It appeared to make such a big difference in their lives,” Marshall said. “If we could make such a difference with the socks, imagine the difference we could make with shoes.”
SAAC’s initial goal was to donate 100 pairs of shoes to the Soles4Souls Initiative. However, Marshall has said the drive is already on pace to exceed the original goal after just three weeks.
Marshall said the Soles4Souls initiative at FSC has already accumulated three full trashcans of shoes. Each trashcan is said to hold about 30 pairs of shoes.
The shoe drive is not exclusively just an opportunity for athletes to donate shoes, and the drive is also not exclusively for athletic shoes to be donated. Athletic compliance coordinator and SAAC advisor Hannah Delph said all students are more than welcome to donate any pair of shoes.
“Literally, all shoes. You can donate wedges, flip flops, boots, as long as they are new and gently used,” Delph said. “Obviously, if you have wedges that are like, half breaking off, we don’t need those or stilettos missing a heel, don’t donate those.”
The shoe drive will run until March 18. The shoes can be dropped off in the Athletic Training Room underneath Jenkins Field House. However, Delph said any students not familiar with the location of the ATR can bring the shoes to her office in the Athletic Administration office.
The existence of poverty around the world and the need to help those in need is ever-present.
The World Bank has estimated that almost 11 percent of the world’s population lives in stricken poverty. Many of these individuals do not have adequate footwear, and some don’t have any footwear. In turn, groups like Soles4Souls have committed to fighting poverty by collecting shoes for impoverished individuals.
Since 2006, Soles4Souls has collected and distributed over 30 million pairs of shoes to individuals in 127 countries around the world, as well as all 50 states in the United States.
Flament said she wanted FSC to join the Soles4Souls initiative in order to provide for those that are less fortunate that she and her peers.
“We might take for granted having shoes on our feet, and that might be the difference for children going or not going to school or adults going or not going to work, Flament said. “We can’t deny them basic rights to life and opportunities that they could be missing out on if they didn’t have shoes.”
In addition to its partnership with Souls4Soles, SAAC has and is continuing to find ways to help serve Lakeland and communities around the world.
SAAC has sponsored canned food drives in years past, and SAAC has an ongoing Ronald McDonald House Pop Tab Program.
Students-athletes and students can remove the tabs from their soda cans and donate them to SAAC. All the tabs will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House in order to raise funds to support struggling children and their families.
Each year, SAAC also hosts a formal athletic banquet. All proceeds acquired via the banquet are donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
For more information on the Soles4Souls initiative and to see frequently asked questions, check out the FAQs page on the Soles4Souls website.
For more information on the FSC shoe drive, contact Hannah Delph at firstname.lastname@example.org.