UNH Steps It Up for Soles4Souls
When a child in earthquake-ravaged Haiti pulls on her first pair of shoes this year, it will mean that someone at UNH stepped up.
When a family in the American Midwest who lost everything in a tornado picks up boxes of free shoes, the UNH community can stand tall, too.
And when you donate your gently used (or never worn) shoes to Soles4Souls at the UNH Field House this spring, Cathy Coakley and dozens of UNH student-athletes will thank you as well. From now through April14, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will be collecting donated shoes for Soles4Souls, which distributes shoes around the world.
“It’s a great way to involve our athletes, the coaches, and the wider community in a collaboration that supports a great cause,” says Coakley, coordinator of Student-Athlete Development at UNH.
The UNH shoe collection drive netted 1,300 pairs when it was started last year. But Coakley is hoping for a big increase as the drive expands across campus and into the community this year.
UNH athletic teams take on community service projects each fall and spring semester, with two representatives from each team coordinating their team’s participation. Last fall, they collected 30 large cases of food and dozens of toys for local charities. This spring, each team gets a box to put in its locker area for collecting shoes.
In addition, the athletes invite teams from other schools coming to Durham to compete to bring shoe donations with them. The UNH athletes are also working with students at Newmarket Junior High School to collect shoes, which will be delivered at the UNH Invitational Track and Field Meet on April 14.
Once the drive is over, the shoes will be boxed up and shipped off to Soles4Souls, with support from the America East Conference. Soles4Souls will then distribute them to the American Midwest, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and other countries. Since 2005, the nonprofit has delivered more than 17 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes to people in more than 127 countries.