The soul reason

Shoe drive benefits communities in need


Soles4Souls (

Soles4Souls is taking pairs or single shoes for its donation drive

Olivia Ingram, Staff Writer

It’s 2018.

Junior Maryn Tschoepe walks down the hallways of Smithson Valley Middle School, sporting her clean, trendy, black and white checkerboard, slip-on Vans. They are her go-to shoes; she wears them everywhere. She puts them on after volleyball games, softball games – anywhere you can imagine.

It’s now 2023. 

As she drops the same Vans, now beat up and discolored, into the Soles4Souls shoe drive box, located in the athletic hall, Tschoepe is flooded with pride and the memories attached to her checkerboard slip-ons. She knows her beloved shoes will go on to help someone in need.

“I felt accomplished with myself and satisfied with what I was doing,” Tschoepe said. “I’m not really using them, so I don’t really have any purpose for them anymore, so it’ll be good to let someone else use them who needs them.”

Soles4Souls is a non profit organization that provides shoes as well as clothes to people and families in developing countries who are not able to afford or have access to them. By partnering with schools across the United States, the organization gives communities opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise because of the donations from others.

“At S4S [Soles4Souls], we turn unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity, by keeping them from going to waste and putting them to good use – providing relief, creating jobs and empowering people to break the cycle of poverty,” according to the Soles4Souls website.

Every year, the Soles4Souls shoe drive is organized and run by PTSA’s Environmental Chair, usually a student member.

“The PTSA at SVHS actually has several board member positions held by students,” PTSA Secretary Alanna Carmichael said. “These positions allow the student volunteers to show their support of the school, teachers, and staff; and they allow the students to develop their leadership skills. The Environmental Chair position is perfect for a student who is passionate about helping our environment.”

Junior Kaylee Carmichael found herself in that role. With more than 100 service hours this school year alone and a heart for volunteering and serving her community, she immediately knew she wanted to help when presented with the opportunity to be Environmental Chair and run Soles4Souls.

“Last year, I was the Social Media Chair, but I decided I wanted to take on a bigger role in the PTA,” Carmichael said. “Being Environmental Chair allows me to help encourage and facilitate change while Social Media Chair was more about informing students and parents about upcoming events.”

As head of the shoe drive, Carmichael has many jobs that must be done thoroughly and correctly to ensure a successful outcome. 

“I made the ads for it, wrote the announcement excerpt, I set up the boxes, found a place to store them, and now I’m having to organize the day where we’re all getting together to sort (the shoes),” she said.

 The donation boxes for the drive are located in various spots across campus: the Rotunda, Senior Dining, the athletic hall, and outside of the front office.

“We take all shoes,” Carmichael said. “Dress shoes, sneakers, boots, and they can even be solo. They don’t even need their matches.”

Once the drive is over on April 10, Carmichael will collect each box to be organized and later dropped off to be sent to the Soles4Souls headquarters.

“We take them all out of the bags and we sort them into pairs and singles,” Carmichael said. “We rubber band the pairs together and put them in bags. We count them all and then we drive them to the main donation center.”

Carmichael found volunteering easy to start.

“It’s really…beneficial to people around the world who need help,” Carmichael said. “It’s really fulfilling to know that you’re making a difference.”