Grandoe Corporation, Gloversville, NY, recently donated over 1,000 pairs of to Nashville, Tenn.-based Soles4Souls, a charity that blossomed out of the 2004 tsunami that devastated areas of Southeast Asia.
Grandoe donated a variety of shoes in its patented comfort lines that include brand names such as Hush Puppies and Smartdogs.
"We were happy to be in a position to help out a worthy cause that is also very much aligned with our mission to enhance the comfort and enjoyment of life of others," said Grandoe President and CEO Eric Friedman.
Soles4Souls distributes shoes to people in need all over the world. Since 2005, the charity has given away nearly 12 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes, currently donating a pair every seven seconds.
The shoes have been distributed to people within the United States and throughout more than 125 countries, including Kenya, Thailand and Nepal.
Grandoe was established in the late 1800’s and is still under the ownership and direction of its founding family, now in its fourth and fifth generations.
According to Grandoe, Director of Product Management & Design, Brian Adamkoski, the donation carries a monetary value averaging about $90,000. The donation includes several different shoes at different price ranges.
Adamkoski said Soles4Souls is a "very well-known charity organization in the shoe industry" and frequently solicits donations, so the company decided for the first time to send a shipment.
According to Soles4Shoes.org, Wayne Elsey, founder and CEO of Soles4Souls, felt he needed to do something after the 2004 tsunami, but wasn't sure what until a TV image of a single shoe washing up on the beach triggered an idea to start calling other executives in the footwear industry and soliciting donations.
Elsey has worked in the footwear industry since he was 15 years old, starting in a stockroom and later becoming an executive.
From there, Soles4Souls collected more than 250,000 shoes for victims of the tsunami. When Hurricane Katrina devastated areas around the Gulf of Mexico, the shoe industry again stepped up and sent more than 1 million shoes to the Gulf Coast areas. From there, Elsey decided to start the nonprofit with a simple mission of "changing the world one pair at a time."
Over the years, Grandoe has made it a practice to donate surplus goods to charity, Adamkoski said. Grandoe's brands in gloves include Grandoe, Cire by Grandoe and Stick it.
Adamkoski said footwear is one of the company's fastest-growing divisions. Though the company has only been in the footwear business for about a decade, it already accounts for about 30 percent of the company's sales.
Soles4Souls has a World Outreach Center in Alabama and two satellite warehouses in Nashville and Las Vegas, Nev. They receive and process the shoes from footwear companies, churches and civic groups as well as individual donors.