Soul to Sole, established in 2007, works with community nonprofit organizations including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lorain County, Save Our Children and Big Brothers/Big Sisters to identify children of low-income families in need of new athletic shoes. Soul to Sole was founded and directed by Laurie Bove and Lori Campana.
Being very conscious of the economic needs of Lorain County, as well as having knowledge of the programs offered by these partners, Lori knew this would be a great way to reach the children in need.
You notice that she waits until all the other kids leave the classroom before she gets up from her desk. You wonder why she constantly tucks her feet beneath her and why she doesn't run and play with the other kids at recess.
And, finally you notice her shoes. Tennis shoes so worn that her little toes peak out of the top and they are too big for her small feet. But, those are the only shoes she has to wear.
Providing shoes to ensure that children have adequate footwear is the visible purpose of Soul to Sole.
The other and more central purpose of the program is to build the children's confidence.
Our culture, whether we agree or disagree, places value on our clothing and appearance. A child wearing worn-out hand-me-down shoes walks into a classroom with a feeling of inferiority. A new pair of “cool” shoes helps build their self-esteem, adding to their sense of pride. For some of the children, it is the only new pair of shoes they have ever owned.
Soul to Sole is staffed by volunteers. We raise the funds to purchase the shoes, and our partners identify the children most in need. Shoes are given to the children throughout the year - usually in August, October, February and June. Since May 2007 Soul to Sole has provided over 33,000 pairs of shoes to Lorain County children between the ages of 6 – 18 years old.
"She calls out to the man on the street
He can see she's been crying
She's got blisters on the soles of her feet
She can't walk but she's trying
Oh Lord, is there nothing more anybody can do?"
— Phil Collins, Another Day in Paradise