Andre McDonnell could use a little help from some friends. The founder of It’s From the Sole, a nonprofit organization that’s been distributing sneakers to the homeless since 2012, is looking for partners to help expand his efforts outside his base of New York City.
One day, while McDonnell was playing basketball with friends, he noticed a homeless man nearby, sparking the idea. “I had an abundance of sneakers at home,” said McDonnell, who began distributing his extra kicks to homeless individuals. Word soon caught on and McDonnell was joined by some friends who began donating to his cause.
To date, the organization has distributed more than 10,000 pairs of sneakers by reaching out one-on-one to homeless men, women and even children. McDonnell accepts gently worn as well as new sneakers, which he currently stores in a unit donated for a year by TD Bank after being recognized for bringing change to his community.
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According to McDonnell, he personally distributes sneakers that he totes around in duffle bags. When not at his job as a fashion stylist, he also takes his message to New Yorkers by distributing fliers on the subway. McDonnell has even donated a pair of Air Jordans that were given to him as a birthday gift by his client, former NBA player Malik Allen.
McDonnell has been able to extend his efforts to Philadelphia, San Antonio, Texas, and Seattle. This month he plans to distribute sneakers in Huntsville, Ala., followed by a trip to Flint, Mich. He even has London in his plans, visiting the city in April where he hopes to receive donations. His travel budget has come from personal funds, rounded out with monetary donations from supporters.
With warm weather approaching, the homeless will become even more visible on city streets around the country, prompting McDonnell to step up his efforts. For individuals and shoe companies interested in donating shoes, they can contact McDonnell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Monetary donations can be made on It’s From the Sole’s website.