When people consider donating to poverty-ravaged communities, they typically plan to send out food items, monetary donations or clothes—but rarely do they realize how beneficial just a pair of shoes would be.

Sydney Marsellis, president of Missouri Southern’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, said that when people send a pair of shoes to a poverty-stricken area, they’re promoting health, education and the country’s economy.

The not-for-profit Soles4Souls was founded in 2006.

The not-for-profit Soles4Souls was founded in 2006.

“Sometimes kids can’t go to school if they don’t have shoes,” she said. “When we send shoes to Haiti, it helps their economy by creating jobs for people to distribute the shoes and measure shoe sizes. There are health benefits to having shoes, too—it keeps people from being exposed to the disease in that area.”

Marsellis was introduced to the Soles4Souls campaign last year when a friend suggested it as a program for PRSSA to take part in. She researched the organization and was astounded by the difference it made on poverty-stricken communities.

“When I read about it, my heart broke,” she said. “In this country, we take a lot of things for granted, like having a pair of shoes in your closet.”

Marsellis cites her experience with the Joplin tornado as motivation for bringing the program to campus.

“I noticed that people wanted to help with everything right after the tornado happened,” she said. “But after the media died down, people stopped helping, even though there’s still devastation today. I can see how devastation can impact an area for a long time.”

Last year’s campaign was a tremendous success, she said. Their goal was to collect 20 pairs of shoes, but they wound up receiving over 300. A local church donated trash bags full of shoes and many people offered monetary donations, which helped with shipping funds. Marsellis hopes that this year’s campaign will go just as smoothly, as the program has received interest from the community and has been featured on KOAM, KSN and in the Joplin Globe.

PRSSA will be accepting shoes and monetary donations until the end of the month. Collection boxes have been set up in Billingsly Student Center, Plaster Hall, Webster Hall and the Spiva Library.