UT student’s mission puts shoes on those in needWritten by Matt Liasse | | email@example.com
The idea to ‘save the feet’ came during a service trip to Haiti.
Jordan Keefe, the founder of the nonprofit organization Save The Feet, was staying near a concrete soccer field while in the country. He felt badly for the number of children unable to play the sport because they didn’t have shoes. They instead opted not to play because of possible injuries and no doctor being around.
“A simple cut could’ve been a life threatening injury to them,” Keefe said. “They didn’t have anything on their feet to protect them from rocks or glass.”
Throughout the trip, Keefe said, he would see people with no shoes in the street. He also saw a man whose sandal’s broke, leaving him without another pair of shoes.
“When we were there, we noticed people don’t have shoes and understood that people in America have plenty of shoes on an average of about 20 or 30 pairs,” Keefe said. “Honestly, it was sickening to me. Back in America, I probably had ten pairs of shoes that I didn’t even wear … I couldn’t handle what I was seeing.”
Keefe said he would’ve loved to give people shoes while he was there, but only packed one pair.
When he got back from the trip, in March of 2013, Keefe and friends began collecting shoes with a mission to donate them to people in need all over the world. It began as a Facebook page and sending messages out, but now the organization has 501(c)3 status, making donations tax deductible.
“I’ve always been one who is generous and wants to give back, but a year ago I would’ve never dreamed that I was running the nonprofit shoe organization,” Keefe said.
At first, Keefe was storing the shoes in his basement, but as the pile grew to more than 3,000 pairs donated, he had to store them in other locations. They are currently in a warehouse on The University of Toledo’s campus.
The first round of shoes will be distributed to Les Cayes, Haiti in June, being shipped in April. Shipping the shoes will cost close to $5,000, which is being covered by the Rotary Club of Toledo and through fundraising.
Shoes will still be collected after the first shipment, in order to make more shipments to more cities. Keefe’s goal is to eventually distribute shoes all over the world.
Keefe has also begun discussions with St. Paul’s Community Center to distribute shoes to Toledoans in need.
“You assume that everyone has shoes,” Keefe said. “It was eye-opening to think that people are going through life here in America without shoes on their feet … it’s kind of shocking to think that we live right next door to some of these people.”
To donate, anyone can call 419-360-2522 or email SaveTheFeetHaiti@gmail.com; this puts anyone in contact with Keefe and he will make arrangements to meet for donating. Keefe said he think it’s important to establish a relationship with each person who donates.
“I think it benefits both parties because people see that their donation isn’t just being taken and tossed into a pit,” Keefe said. “[It definitely] provides a more personalized touch to it.”
Keefe wishes to collect as many children’s shoes as possible, but will take any shoes donated.
For more information, visit savethefeet.org.