Sal’s Shoes – the journey
My name is CJ and I have a son called Sal. Three years ago, after accumulating a bag of my son’s pre-loved, outgrown but not outworn, shoes, I looked for a charity who could find these barely worn shoes new feet. None of the organisations I contacted could tell me where exactly in the world his pre-loved shoes would end up walking again . . . I think we need to be accountable for our actions; so I decided to cut out the middle man and send the shoes directly to some kids I knew who needed them. Quite unexpectedly I received back a photograph of a little boy on a hospital ward in Zambia wearing Sal’s very first pair of shoes – they were now his first pair of shoes.
I started collecting more outgrown children’s shoes from family and friends and by harnessing social media for a good cause, word spread and soon I was inundated with pairs of barely worn shoes; ‘Sal’s Shoes’ had been born. The week I launched Sal’s Shoes I asked 3 locations to host a collection – where people could drop off their kids’ outgrown shoes. Since that day, we have never had to ask anyone to host a collection for us. We receive shoes from schools and companies, from individuals and from communities.
Feet in shoes are protected feet. Feet protected from injury and infection and in areas of low sanitation, the spread of infection. In many countries whilst the education system is free, children are not permitted to go to school if they do not own a pair of shoes. In disaster areas, both natural and man-made, shoes protect from infection and injury. Shoes protect soles from the scorching sun and the bitter cold. Sal’s Shoes are affording children all over the world good health and access to opportunities. Just over 3 years since we started, we have now collected over 150,000 pairs of children’s shoes and found them new feet in 35 countries around the world including in the UK. Sal’s Shoes are now walking again in rural and urban areas, in orphanages and hospital wards, in refugee camps and internally displaced people (IDP) settlements. Pre-played football boots are back on the pitch on the feet of children who may otherwise only ever dream of owning a pair.
Since being awarded the 600th Point of Light Award Sal’s Shoes has been entered onto the Register of Charities with the Registered Charity Number 1171670. We have sent consignments to find new feet amongst the homeless and asylum seekers in the UK, orphans in South Africa, football players in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan, schoolchildren in Ghana and Kenya, refugees in northern Iraq, and IDPs in Syria.
The social and humanitarian category can be an uncomfortable one to be recognised in as really all we achieve is because of the less fortunate position of others. My advice to other Points of Light in this area? Charity can be selfish, doing good, feels good and we can all do something. I think the vast majority of people want to do something good, but they don’t always make the time to do it. The more direct an opportunity you give someone to help, the more likely they are to.
If you have any questions for CJ, please get in touch at email@example.com
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