Athletic sneakers are crucial for soldiers — but in the harsh 120-degree-plus temperatures and rugged terrain of Afghanistan, they can easily become worn through, and the shoes aren’t supplied by the military.
As parents of a soldier deployed in the region, John and Deborah Hausladen, of Malvern, Penn., heard from their son about his footwear needs and that of his platoon members, so the Hausladens decided to form an organization to take action.
Thus, Sneakers for Soldiers was born in April 2018. As of July 2019, the nonprofit had shipped just over 200 pairs of sneakers in total to troops.
But following a July 2019 interview with ABC News, Sneakers for Soldiers saw a massive surge in donations, receiving $300,000 within the first week of the report. Now, the organization ships 300 pairs each months to members of the military in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria — and has donated over 2,600 sneakers, it revealed in an ABC New update.
“It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that something as simple as a pair of sneakers is putting a smile on the faces of our service members,” Deborah said in December. “And we’re just getting started.”
For their efforts, the Hausladens were in March 2019 granted the Bronze Patrick Henry Medallion Award by the Philadelphia Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars. In December 2019, they received Grant Thornton’s prestigious Purple Paladin award, with Thornton to provide skills-based services, as well as financial support.
Bryn Mawr Running Co., a Greater Philadelphia-area retailer, is among the organization’s partners — providing wares to the Hausladens at a deeply discounted rate. Sneakers for Soldiers today offers seven styles of popular sneakers, based on recommendations from deployed soldiers.
The shoes are durable and built to hold up in extreme temperatures, harsh environments and rugged terrain, and they are built for daily exercise. Each pair is selected carefully for the soldier, taking into consideration the climate in which he or she is serving as well as the individual’s feet.
Sneakers for Soldiers has received dozens of heartwarming testimonies from the recipients of its donations, which can be viewed on the organization’s website.
Sneakers for Soldiers is accepting financial contributions now, and those who donate are able to write a message for the recipient. The nonprofit has received donations from all 50 U.S. states. Click here to donate.