We officially founded Project Sole in 2009, but the idea was born much earlier. After my freshman year of college, I spent two years living in Honduras. While there, I was troubled by the amount of people I met and saw who lived barefoot because they could not afford a new pair of shoes. The majority of the dirt roads they walked on were lined with sewage runoff and trash; which caused many people to suffer with infection and disease from the bacteria. It bothered me to think that this could easily be prevented by wearing a good pair of shoes. My heart went to them, but as a 19 year old, I was unsure in what way I could offer help. The urge to assist kept growing, and when I returned to Oregon to finish school, I filed the idea away into my "someday, some way" box.
In 2008, my dad was diagnosed with Gastric Cancer. As a plea for karma points, I began giving portions of my paycheck to various organizations that raised money to find a cure for cancer. I understood that my contributions probably wouldn't help my dad directly, but I had faith that they could be used to help save the life of someone else. My wife was supportive, but encouraged me to find a way to raise money for cancer research without depleting our savings.
While brainstorming ideas to raise money without asking for donations, I developed a way to achieve two personal goals simultaneously: collect and distribute semi-used shoes with affordable prices in Honduras and use the proceeds as a way to generate funds for cancer research. I pitched the concept to a close friend, Jaron Wilson, and he added that we should broaden our reach and implement the process as a way to raise money for education, multiple charities, Boy Scouts and civic organizations with varying causes.
Today we realize shoe-drives as fundraising and humanitarian projects. We continue to generate desperately needed funds for charities and education while offering affordable and quality footwear to developing and disaster-stricken communities around the globe. We are honored that you would consider the opportunity to work with us and invite you to improve our World with shoes.