An impressive 40,000 — and counting: That’s how many pairs of sandals The Shoe That Grows, an organization that produces an expandable shoe design, has helped distribute to impoverished kids around the globe.
The organization, which officially got up and running just a year ago, was founded by Kenton Lee, who had spent time working in an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. One day, he noticed a small girl wearing shoes too small for her feet. With no prior experience in the shoe business, he decided to tackle the problem upon his return to the States.
Today, the sandals are produced in Asia, although Lee hopes to bring production to areas in need. This year, according to Lee, 5,000 pairs will be made in Ethiopia for distribution in that country, an initiative that will also help create jobs in these communities.
The leather sandal comes in three sizes and is designed to fit kids ages 4 to 14. By adjusting snaps on the uppers, it can expand in length.
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Since its launch, The Shoe That Grows has developed a unique approach to shoe distribution. People who are traveling to an area in need for business or vacation can buy a duffel bag filled with 50 pairs of shoes at a cost of $800. It weighs 50 pounds in order to meet airline baggage limits. For $1,500, 100 pairs can be purchased.
The group also accepts monetary donations or work with fellow organizations for fundraising events. Those interested in participating can contact The Shoe That Grows.