Sole Mission + Code SOLEMISSION

Living in poverty poses hair-raising challenges and unanswered questions that might terrify all but the bravest among us: Will my children and I have a place to sleep tonight? Will I have food to feed my children and myself? Will we have electricity to keep us warm and to make it possible to cook? It also poses challenges many of us may never even consider: Will I find well-fitting shoes for my children and me to wear? Will the used shoes we have with holes in them and the soles falling off last another day?

Photos Care of Sole Mission and PLAE

Alisa and Kelly Ward noticed, while working with an organization addressing poverty issues in rural America and disaster response to rural areas, that each time the organization was given shoes to distribute the response from the kids and families on the receiving end was very positive. “In order to make the ‘shoe project’ sustainable,” Kelly says, “Alisa and I began to promote the project, fundraise, and shoe-raise. We became very intentional about acquiring shoes and the proper delivery of the shoes to kids and families in 2008.” Combining their mission to provide kids living in poverty with a brand-new, well-fitting pair of shoes with their focus on shoes, they decided to name the project Sole Mission.

Photos Care of Sole Mission and PLAE

The project grew quickly, and though Sole Mission became sustainable Alisa and Kelly began to notice that the geographic limitations for rural areas had become restrictive. “Sole Mission was receiving requests from suburban and urban areas regularly,” Alisa shares, “so in 2011, Kelly and I proposed removing Sole Mission from the umbrella organization and establishing it as a separate nonprofit. This change was approved, and with the geographical limits removed, Sole Mission’s reach and scope increased exponentially. In 2018, Sole Mission celebrated ten years and half a million pairs of shoes donated.”

Photos Care of Sole Mission and PLAE

Half a million! In ten years! Alisa and Kelly noticed a need, saw what a difference it made to people when that need was addressed, figured out how to address it, and in only a decade positively impacted the lives of more than half a million people. Imagine if we all did that.

“Everyone loves to get a new pair of shoes,” Kelly says. “They make you run faster, jump higher, and look good doing it. Unfortunately for kids living in poverty in America, putting on new shoes rarely happens. Kids in poverty face a daily struggle. Many have hand-me-down shoes that are too big or too small, making their feet grow crooked and deformed. Others have holes in their shoes. Many have no shoes at all.” Sole Mission aims to change that. Kids living in poverty receive a new, well-fitting pair of shoes from Sole Mission that not only protect their feet but also help them increase their self-esteem and improve their outlook on life. And give their parents a moment to breathe.  “One of the important things Sole Mission does is help large families. If one of our guests has four, five, or six kids, new shoes for all of them would cost several hundred dollars,” Alisa explains. “That could be rent for that month, or the utilities bill, or groceries.”

When ‘Returning the Favor’ producers called upon PLAE for help - there was no hesitation!  PLAE learned about Sole Mission’s work and surprised Alisa and Kelly by donating a truck load of shoes to the cause. Watch Alisa and Kelly receive the surprise of their lives on the June 17th episode of Returning the Favor, and then -- if you want to help kids in poverty get a pep in their step while getting a new pair of kicks for your own kids or yourself -- use the unique promo code SOLEMISSION during checkout at plae.co and we will donate 10% of your purchase price directly to Sole Mission. You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram