SEND YOUR SHOES
For the first 12-years we used to collect shoes in a large cardboard box, keep them in the apartment, hike them up to the Post Office, and ship them to Africa. Then the USPS cut shipping (surface mail), and by air freight it became cost prohibitive (increasing fivefold).
The program became better publicised... Donations of hundreds upon hundreds shoes flooded in from all over America, but next to zero funds for freight. The funding had come from the founder's pockets, with a few donations from close friends. Also, for the people who sent shoes to us, well if people had added a dollar or two more they could have sent them direct to Africa...
The local running store, Urban Athletics, also kindly collected shoes for us. [Picture]
In 2007 Natalie Portman, in the InStyle magazine cover story, did us a great favor by promoting the method we had then adopted. She said, "I have a friend collecting shoes for Kenya (shoe4africa.org)-each pair that is worn will cut down on the spread of disease. It's about doing something constructive. If you are going to buy $200 nikes, then spend $7 sending your shoes to Africa. It's a nice balance."
That is our concept. When the shoes get to Africa we pay the tax duty (applicable on all second hand imported goods), and distribute the shoes, large in part at one of the free races we host. ($1.50 per pair of shoes, ground transportation for a container of 5000 shoes is $3000 from Mombasa to Eldoret, Sea from NYC to Africa $3000, holding an event $10,000+ etc)
It works. Simply put we don't have the funds, or a staff, or the storage, to be able to collect old shoes and ship them apart from at our scheduled drives. But more than that, Shoe4Africa has a process of distribution and empowerment, that goes beyond just collecting shoes and dumping them off in Africa.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Please send a pair. Send a pair of running shoes you know that has at least another 100-miles of running still left in their life so they can be properly used for the health & fitness programs we promote. Please do not send shoes you are about to chuck away because you deem them useless!
Although many shoes we hand out end up on the legs of runners we do not care if the person coming out to run/walk is a fast or a slow runner. One of our first sponsored ladies was a 50-year farmer in Iten, she was about 200-lbs and could never become an elite runner; but she wanted to change her life.
Running shoes PREVENT hookworm and start off a new life of sport. We don't want to hand out shoes; we hold races so people EARN shoes. Empowerment not charity.
Remember athletes like World Champion Fabiano Joseph started running in shoes that a supporter of Shoe4Africa donated!
The gift of receiving a shoe is honored, the impact memorable, and if you ask the big African stars of running who are winning the likes of the NYC or Boston marathons they always remember the special day when they received their first pair of shoes.