Soles4Souls Finding Rare Success in Distribution of Emergency Aid in Haiti

Shoe charity leaning on longtime partners firmly entrenched in Western Hemisphere's poorest country

Jan 15, 2010, 17:12 ET from Soles4Souls Inc.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. and PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Wayne Elsey, the Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls Inc., the international shoe charity, has read the news reports detailing the rising frustration of Haitians who wait for aid packages to clear the capital city's unreachable dock.  He is very dismayed, but not surprised, that many organizations are experiencing extreme difficulty despite their good intentions.

"This delay is another tragedy in the making," he said.  "Too many organizations are having a difficult time getting shipments around the backlog in Port-au-Prince because they don't have a distribution plan in place once it gets to the country," he said.

Elsey said his organization is working with a handful of trusted partners with longtime distributions inside the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.  "We heard that the port city would be closed for at least ten days, which effectively means it's useless," he said.  "Smaller, more rural points of access must be utilized or the good intentions will end up going to waste."

Soles4Souls has already distributed thousands of "family relief packages," which include food, water, medical supplies, cleaning products, baby products and clothes, as well as shoes.  Elsey has earmarked 250,000 pairs of new shoes for the country over a sustained giving campaign.

"We are not sending it all at once or we would cause far more harm than good," he said.  "Right now, our partners are handing out the packages in feeding centers, school courtyards, open-air church grounds, former marketplaces and other secured locations.  We have been bracing for civil unrest but have been grateful the distributions are going very smoothly so far," he said.

Soles4Souls has experienced dramatic growth in the five years since Elsey created the organization as a response to the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina disasters.  The charity recently announced a purchase of its own building and distribution center in Nashville.  Elsey said this move was strategic to reduce overhead expenses while taking advantage of a favorable real estate market, and he further explained the charity is building a state-of-the-art warehouse to consolidate operations and improve efficiency.

Despite the rapid growth, Soles4Souls continues to operate on 2.5% administrative costs, making it among the most effective charities in the country.  "Our strategy focuses on tight controls and asset management to maximize the results for our valued donors.  They have every right to expect us to give them the best opportunity to reach people in need around the world," he said.

For more information on Soles4Souls and its relief partners, visit

About Soles4Souls®

Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from warehouses of footwear companies and the closets of people like you.  We distribute these shoes, free of charge, to people in need around the world. Since 2005, Soles4Souls has given away over 7 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes (currently distributing one pair every 9 seconds). The shoes have been distributed in 125 countries, including Haiti, Kenya, Nepal and the United States. Soles4Souls is a 501(c)(3) recognized by the IRS and donating parties are eligible for tax advantages. Visit for more information.

SOURCE Soles4Souls Inc.