All those dreadful TV makeover shows that I've been known to watch, always tell us to just "shop in your own closet" for something new to wear. Well, this weekend I did just that, but this time, for items to donate; specifically shoes and eye glasses. I'm a total neat freak so I often clean out my closet for clothes I'm not wearing. I bag them up and when I accumulate a bunch I donate them to a local nonprofit. But this time, I decided to focus on my old sneakers, shoes and eyeglasses. If you have shoes or glasses that you're not wearing...read on; and for those with children, here is a great way to pass on those shoes that are so quickly outgrown.
Let Someone Else Walk In Your Shoes
If you've put too many miles on your running shoes or are just ready for a new pair of shoes, donate your old ones. It is important to only donate shoes that are gently used. Ask yourself, "If I needed shoes, would I want this pair given to me?" I've done a lot of clothing and shoe drives and I'm sometimes shocked at the condition of items people donate--I think we sometimes forget that it is a drive for those in need, not an alternative to the garbage. If you think your shoes are too worn out for someone to wear with dignity, please do not donate them. If you have running shoes that are too worn out, here is a program that will recycle your sneaks--a much better alternative to the garbage.
If your shoes are still in good shape, there are many options for donating them to people in need. If you'd like to give in your community, I suggest a quick google search to find a local shelter or Goodwill. An international organization, one that has given out 16 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries is Soles4Souls. Soles4Souls has drop off locations throughout the country (I put in a couple of zip codes on both coasts and it appears there are a lot of locations). Soles4Souls accepts all types of shoes.
If you would specifically like to donate your used running shoes, here are two nonprofits to consider: Shoe4Africa and Give Running. Shoe4Africa does more than just provide running shoes to those in need in Africa, it promotes AIDS awareness through sports, focuses on health issues, education and women's empowerment. Your old running shoes can be a part of these efforts. Information on sending your running shoes to Africa can be found here. I'm sending my old running shoes to Shoe4Africa because of one key statement on their website that hit home with me, "Running shoes PREVENT hookworm and promote a person to adopt a more healthy lifestyle. We don't want to just hand out shoes; we hold races so people EARN shoes. Empowerment not charity."
The Gift of Sight
Worldwide, there are 284 million children and adults suffering from poor vision due to a lack of access to proper eye care and eye wear. Anyone who wears glasses knows how daunting it can be not to see well and surely can empathize with these millions in need.
For those of you who wear glasses, how many pairs do you have floating around that have (1) an out of date prescription you can no longer wear; or (2) an out of date style you no longer want to wear? I definitely have pairs that fall into both categories. For some reason I've been holding on to them; why, I'm not quite sure.
After hearing about the number of people in need and realizing there is no reason I'm holding onto my old glasses, I decided to pass them on. I researched where to donate glasses and came up with these main options: The Lions Club, New Eyes for the Needy and One Sight of Lenscrafters.
I am sending mine to The Lions Club largely because it where the eyeglass store I've frequented for years recommends. Let me add this disclaimer, though: The Lions Club is not well rated by independent nonprofit evaluator Charity Navigator. Generally, this would keep me from donating to a charity. However, since I am making only an in-kind donation of eyeglasses and not a monetary donation, I am less concerned with this rating. The other two organizations were not rated at all.
I hope this was helpful and gave you some ideas about donating "stuff" you're not using. Thank you for reading and be well!
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