As any family with kids participating in sports is aware, the number of shoes in a house piles up quickly, especially while the children are still growing. With that said, UNCW student-athlete Michaela Moran and her high school aged sister, Ariana, have come up with an innovative solution to put those old shoes to good use.
Michaela, a sophomore cross country/track and field athlete from Atkinson, N.H., and Ariana, a senior at Pinkerton Academy Atkinson, N.H., started “Sole Sisters,” a nonprofit organization focused on donating used sneakers to those less fortunate, according to a press release from UNCW Sports.
Kevin and Lori Moran let their daughters take the lead on the project. The Moran sisters researched how to establish a nonprofit, obtained their Tax Identification Number and created “Sole Sisters” charity.
“The idea started with an article about children in the slums of Kenya getting ringworm from walking around barefoot. That’s what motivated the first shipment,” Lori Moran said.
The Moran’s pile of shoes were no longer suitable for running and cheerleading competitions so Michaela and Ariana thought they could be donated to places in need.
“We had no use for them and people there (Kenya) were losing their lives from infection and disease caused by walking around barefoot,” Ariana Moran said.
St. Anne’s Catholic Church, the Moran’s church in New Hampshire, became the first collection center for the “Sole Sisters” charity.
The girls have collection bins at other schools and churches in the Atkinson community, and donate the shoes to different areas of need each month. Since the charity’s inception this past July, “Sole Sisters” has gathered 800-900 pairs of shoes.
The charity was also brought to the attention of the UNCW Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and “Sole Sisters” began working with the student organization to gather shoes and monetary donations.
“Sole Sisters” is not only in need of shoes, but financial support as well. The charity was established in July 2013 and is learning on the run about the challenges of operating a charity.
“Money has been the biggest challenge so far,” said Michaela Moran. “It gets expensive shipping, and as of now, we have been doing it all out of pocket.”
Michaela Moran and SAAC will participate in a joint fundraiser that will raise money to help cover the cost of shipping. UNCW student-athletes have placed large collection bins across campus, along with flyers advertising the cause.
The shoes collected in January and February will be shipped to Eldoret, Kenya. Past shoe donations have been delivered to foreign countries such as Nairobi, Kenya and Honduras, and various Appalachian and West Virginia shelters.
Those wishing to get involved or donate to “Sole Sisters” may visit the charity’s website at http://sole-sisters.webs.com for contact information. SAAC has also established collection boxes on campus at Wagoner Hall and Randall Library.