If ever there was a genius idea in the world of fashionable footwear, Soles United may well be it. The collaboration between retail and donation has resulted in a fantastic and inspiring endeavor that not only has people talking, but also getting involved in a cause that benefits millions of needy individuals worldwide.
About Soles United
Crocs CEO Ron Snyder's idea for Soles United was borne of his desire to really make a difference. "His vision of helping people around the world came to fruition with this humanitarian effort," says Melissa Koester, Soles United's Program Specialist.
In theory, the concept is quite simple. Donate your old Crocs shoes to Soles United. The shoes are cleaned, ground up and manufactured into new Crocs, which are then donated to needy people around the world. The donation program is the first of its kind, providing completely new product to people in need. In fact, the donated shoes share the same attributes of the original product, making them just as sturdy, reliable and functional. The shoes are also anti-microbial and lightweight, so they're perfect for continuous outdoor wear.
In practice, there is so much more than that goes into this charitable effort than what meets the eye. It takes a truly united effort to really make a difference. The more people who participate, the better the end result will be.
"People's old shoes are always needed, so don't throw away your old Crocs!" says Koester. She points out that the company's goal of 2,000,000 shoes donated by the end of 2008 is well on its way to being achieved. In fact, the effort has already yielded an impressive 1,000,000 pairs of shoes donated, with more being added to that figure everyday.
Clearly, the program's success depends quite specifically on the number of people who take the time to donate their old Crocs. Shoes can be donated at participating retail locations, which can be found at the company's locator. The list of locations continues to grow, so the company recommends checking back to see if a spot near you exists. If it doesn't, you can mail your Crocs to either of the two addresses listed on the site.
The Retail Effort
The donation side is all about the people. The retail effort is Crocs' way of giving back, too. The company uses a unique recycled material called Croslite to manufacture the donated shoes. In an effort to sweeten the deal for consumers while benefiting the needy, Crocs has designed the SolesUnited Beach for Adults and the SolesUnited Cayman for Kids.
Both shoe styles are crafted of the same Croslite material and boast a comfortable fit and laid-back design. For each Beach or Cayman style purchased, Crocs donates a pair to the SolesUnited program.
Where the Shoes Go
The program delivers shoes to needy individuals all over the world! "We use our shipping partners - Brother's Brother Foundation, Feed the Children and World Emergency Relief - to help us ship the shoes to the right people in different areas of the world," says Koester.
Soles United anticipates making donations in 2008 to Armenia, Cambodia, Chad, Darfur, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Philippines, Romania, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
Take a look around the house. Maybe there are a few pairs of old Crocs littering the closet, or perhaps your kids have outgrown their old ones. Maybe you've nabbed a few new styles for yourself in recent months and don't wear older pairs as often anymore. Whatever the case, there's no reason to throw them away or hang onto them if you won't be using them. Simply drop off or mail your shoes.
If you're in the market for a new pair, consider one of the Soles United designs - you'll reap the rewards twofold by purchasing a pair for yourself and having a pair donated to the cause. As Koester so rightly put it, "Everyone can help in their own way."
Learn more about the cause and join the effort at SolesUnited.