Two local businesses are joining forces in a sole-searching endeavour.
Heather Fischbuch, the owner of Bare Hands Day Spa in Radium Hot Springs, is partnering with Summit Footware owner Jocelyn Brunner to collect and distribute used shoes through Soles 4 Souls, a shoe recycling program which collects second-hand footwear from people in “well-heeled” parts of the world, delivering them to people in need.
Ms. Fishbuch got involved after noticing the crucial need during a backpacking trip in Asia.
“I went on a trip a few years ago to India and saw a lot of barefoot people,” she told The Echo. “Some of those barefoot people couldn’t go to work because work was too far, or they had really shoddy shoes that only covered a part of their foot; worn out past what we think worn out is.”
Because she was travelling with three pairs of shoes, she left two pairs behind, and was eager to cover more feet upon her return to Canada.
“I noticed how many in the world – even in a relatively rising nation like India — were barefoot or poorly shod.”
As she researched the issue, Ms. Fischbuch found out about Soles 4 Souls. The charity’s mission was in sync with her goal: provide proper footwear for people around the world who need it most.
By collecting used shoes out of her shop each summer, Ms. Fischbuch began helping the charity four years ago.
“The organization advances its anti-poverty mission by collecting new and used shoes and clothes,” Ms. Fischbuch said. “Shoes are sent to any emergency situation where people leave with just the clothes on their back.”
Although Summit Footwear and Bare Hands Day Spa are only asking for used shoes, Ms. Fischbuch will continue her tradition of donating $5 from every massage given during the month of August, as Soles 4 Soles also needs monetary donations to finance the delivery of the footwear.
She said that the organization will make use of any footwear from flip-flops to winter boots. The shoes are sorted accordingly and sent to practical locations.
“They need footwear that people can use to go to work or school in,” she said.
Last year, through the help of social media and dedicated volunteer Bob Benvenutie, “we shared over 100 pairs of shoes and enough money to transport them where they needed to go,” said Ms. Fischbuch, who hopes to one day accompany the shoes and distribute them abroad herself.
“It’s getting bigger every year, and I’m happy about that,” she said.
Donating used shoes is now twice as easy in the valley, with Summit Footwear being a drop-off location for Soles 4 Souls.
Collections will take place at both shops until the end of September, at which point they will be transported to a distribution centre in Calgary.
The Soles 4 Soles website, found at soles4souls.org, provides a wealth of information about the mission and goals of the organization.