Some friends go to great lengths to make you feel welcome. We arrived at Tom and Joni’s house to find Tom in the driveway with a long 2” by 4” piece of wood. He used that to lift the overhanging tree branches so our RV could pull up his driveway. He also climbed on top of the RV to lift branches the wood didn’t reach. Now that’s hospitality! Within seconds of meeting their adorable six-year-old granddaughter, Addy, we were ready to take her with us on the rest of our year-long tour. Not only does she read at a fifth grade level, she’s funny AND polite. I have several talent agency friends who will soon be fighting to sign up Addy and get her into TV commercials. We may even sign her up as a Junior Soles4Souls Spokesperson.
Archive for March, 2009
After a scrumptious breakfast with Wayne at Burger King, we headed over to South County Secondary School to meet with their DECA students and students in marketing classes. Their organizational skills would put a professional organization to shame! The students not only collected thousands of shoes, they printed “Sole Patrol” T-Shirts, decorated the school with colored shoe posters and even painted their “school rock” with Soles4Souls information. Once again, it’s encouraging to meet high schoolers totally engaged in learning as well as helping others. Check out the creative sign they made using white plastic cups on their chain link fence!
Since we had some free time, John, owner of the Foot Solutions store in Annapolis, suggested we visit the town. Allan skillfully navigated the RV through the narrow, winding streets of Annapolis and even negotiated a Round-About. A resident of Annapolis, (who shall remain unnamed, but owns a boat and likes to tinker) told us to park on a street, and simply use two parking spaces. We put money in both parking meters, as instructed by our “local” friend. Ten minutes later, as we glanced back at the RV, we saw a traffic officer giving us a ticket. “You’re only allowed to use one parking spot she told us”. Then she added, “I was going to write you a ticket, but someone stopped me and told me about the good work Soles4Souls is doing. I’ll just give you a warning.” We thanked her and of course, gave her a Soles4Souls brochure.
Everyone we talked to warned us about the horrors of driving through Washington DC traffic. With those warnings in mind, we left our campground at 5:00 am and made it relatively traffic-free to Annapolis. (Note to drivers in the area: If you see a huge RV signaling to change lanes, please do not speed up and get in our lane!) We spent the morning watching John Sullivan patiently fitting his customers for shoes. He listened as they explained their foot “problems” in detail, so he could suggest a “solution”. It was fun watching people leave the store excited about their new comfortable shoes. In between customers, Allan and John used their creative skills to customize a window lock for our RV. I felt I was watching an episode of Tim Allen’s Home Improvement show as they tried different tools and devices to cut off ¼” of aluminum on the tiny lock. It was evident John, (who owns a boat) was an expert at tinkering. They succeeded in their efforts and we now have a lock on the RV window. Thanks John!
In high school, my friends and I would go to dances with live bands, hoping to get backstage. We’d confidently saunter up to a stage door and say “We’re with the band”. At that point we’d quickly be turned away. A few days ago, we were with country singer Adam Gregory in Knoxville and Chattanoga. Trying to see if my luck had improved, I confidently sauntered to the stage door and said “I’m with the band”. I guess the “bouncer” thought I was a band member’s mother, becuase he let me in. So it’s only taken me 31 years to achieve my goal of going backstage with the band. Adam has been wonderful in helping promote Soles4Souls as a shoe charity that distributes shoes around the world. Many audience members brought shoes to donate and paid a special cover charge as a donation to Soles4Souls. Midway through his show, Adam tosses an autographed Soles4Souls T-Shirt to the audience, causing quite a scramble from the women in the crowd.
Quick! What’s the most popular National Park in the US? If you guessed Smoky Mountain National Park, you win a bag of pinecones. Over 8 million people visit this spectacular park every year. The park offers 750 miles of hiking trails and Allan and I had time to cover .5 miles. Our goal was to attend the Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union Conference. Their theme, “Love Out loud” went along with the idea of donating gently-used shoes to Soles4Souls. We spoke with hundreds of women at our booth, encouraging them to organize a shoe drive at their church. Whenever we’d ask a woman “Do you have extra shoes in your closet?” they’d laugh and say “Lordy, I have bags of extra shoes!” Naturally we suggested they recycle their shoes with us. Many teenage girls attended the conference also, so we explained the Soles4Souls fund raising program where they can sell clogs or flip-flops and keep 40% of the profits. It was fun seeing their excitement about this fund raising effort since many were trying to earn money for mission trips this summer.
We’re back in Nashville for a few days before heading out to Knoxville, Chattanoga, Gatlinburg and the Washington DC area. But first Allan got special “training” in how to apply large stickers from our corporate sponsors to the sides of the RV. What do you think? Did he get the Foot Solutions sticker on straight? Foot Solutions is the world’s largest and #1 ranked health and wellness franchise, focusing on foot care and proper fit. We’re proud to be their rolling billboard for the next year! (And yes, their shoes are both cute and comfortable.)
The morning started with a visit to the Evansville Christian School in Evansville, Indiana. The students were challenged to donate shoes to Soles4Souls by bringing shoes and putting them inside a Shoe Carnival convertible VW bug . The students didn’t fill the bug…they buried it! They brought so many shoes that the car was completely overflowing with 2,000 pairs of shoes. We then emptied all 2,000 pairs of shoes, drove the car to the convention center in Evansville and filled it again as a display for the Run of Luck/7K road run on Saturday. The pile of shoes grew, as runners brought in their gently-used running shoes to donate. It was exciting to see the pile of shoes in, on and around the VW get bigger and bigger. We even had some cute leprechauns donate shoes!
We thought it would be a typical stop at the Foot Solutions store in Atlanta. That is, until we met the store manager, Betsy Mylander. This dynamo was ready to collect shoes! She had balloons everywhere, signs all around and boxes of already-donated shoes in the store room. Foot Solutions is the world’s largest and #1 ranked health and wellness franchise, focusing on foot care and proper fit. Betsy took one look at my shoes and told me I was hurting my arches. (Actually, I was going for the cuteness factor with polka-dotted bows on my shoes.) Within ten minutes Betsy had both Allan and I wearing new, orthopedically correct shoes. After meeting some of her satisfied customers, we went to her church and gave a short presentation about how Soles4Souls recycles shoes by donating shoes to people in need.
We’ve all been approached by eager students asking us to help with their fund raising efforts by buying cookie dough, wrapping paper or light bulbs. The 800 students at Needwood Middle school in Brunswick, Georgia are adding a humanitarian aspect to their fund raising efforts. Allan and I got to meet these great students at a fund raising kick-off last week. This program allows students to raise money for their school by sponsoring Soles4Souls flip flops or clogs for the needy. Instead of lugging shoes door to door, students accept monetary donations from family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors for new Soles4Souls clogs or flip flops. As a shoe charity, Soles4Souls then ships the shoes directly to people in need, domestically and internationally.
We showed slides of recent shoe distributions to help students understand how their efforts to sell shoes will help some of the 300 million children around the world that don’t even own a pair of shoes. I was particularly touched by a student who spoke to her school, telling the students that part of the money they raise will go to help send girls in Afghanistan to school. It’s encouraging to see students learn about the intrinsic value that comes from helping others. Besides, do any of us really need another tub of cookie dough?
Afterwards, the Soles4Souls RV was quite a hit as students lined up to get their pictures taken with our big blue moving billboard.