Footwear Community Steps Up Charity Work

NEW YORK  — Payless ShoeSource and Souls4Souls, are reaching out to those in need with free shoes through in-store and Internet outreaches.

Payless, based in Topeka, Kan., will launch the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program, a grassroots campaign that aims to deliver $1 million worth of shoes, or more than 65,000 pairs, to American children in need through a partnership with local non-profit organizations across the nation.

The retailer will give away more than 65,000 $15 coupons, redeemable through Jan. 31, 2009, which can be used toward a pair of shoes at any of the nearly 4,000 stores across America (excluding Shopko).

Payless will select as many well-suited non-profits as possible to serve as partners. In early December, the firm expects to announce all of its partners in an aim to cover both urban as well as rural areas.

In a separate move, Soles4Souls, based in Nashville, Tenn., has launched a new fundraising Website, 50000shoes.com. The charity is challenging bloggers and social media users to raise funds for 50,000 pairs of new shoes in 50 days. The challenge went live Monday and will end Dec. 31.

Upon visiting the site, visitors can download their choice of four Soles4Souls banner ads and blog widgets. Using the tools provided, users can e-mail, blog or twitter the challenge to friends and family.

A donation of $5 buys two pairs of new shoes. After 50,000 pairs have been donated, one person and a guest (selected at random) will deliver the shoes they purchased to someone in need on one of the Soles4Souls trips to Mexico.

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