Tiernan’s Soles distributes shoes to charities

WHAT I DID:

My service story started for me in 7th grade after I overheard a group of girls saying they had a “shoe problem”, as in they couldn’t stop buying them. Whereas I knew that a true “shoe problem” was not having any shoes to wear. So, that week I scheduled a visit to a local nonprofit shoe charity and it was there that I learned that shoes show the first sign of poverty. That is when I started Tiernan’s Soles Shoe Drive and within a month reached my first goal of collecting 100 pairs.  Within these first 100 pairs was an adorable pair of girls boots with rainbow laces.  As my responsibility, I brought the collected shoes to my local charity where I was able to help clean, sanitize and refurbish them to a like new condition.

On my 13th birthday, I was invited to attend a back to school event as a personal shoe shopper for kids in need. After helping many wonderful families, I was assigned to help an eight-year-old girl who fell in love with the rainbow-laced boots. To see a pair of shoes that I collected make someone so happy was the most satisfying feeling I’ve ever experienced.

After that my appetite for helping others was insatiable.  By the time I started high school, I had collected over 1000 pairs and was awarded the Mattel Top 5 Young Philanthropists in the United States Award. As a result, my local charity received a donation of $1000 in my name. I have since placed donation receptacles in local hair salons, doctor’s offices, daycares and gyms. I have worked alongside my local athletic sports clubs, retirement communities, police stations and schools.

Through volunteering I’ve learned that there are just as many people willing to help as there are needing it, the key is to connect them. With the entire community by my side, I have collected over 5,400 pairs.  Donating shoes might sound simple but there’s so much more that goes with it. Shoes are the key to walking with confidence. Shoes also have the power to unlock opportunities some kids may never have such as playing sports, having a successful job interview, or even just going to prom.

In summation, I can confidently say that my service story has not only made a difference today, but will also change tomorrow and every day following.

HOW I DID IT:

I figured out early that the key to collecting shoes was networking and reaching out to key members of my community. There are as many people wanting to help as there are needing it, the key was connecting them. As far as shoes are concerned I focused on places where “mom’s” would frequent, like daycares, schools, salons and Dr. Offices and I tried to make donating/dropping shoes off as easy and accessible as possible. I also recognized that even though people say they don’t do it for the recognition, people do in fact like to be recognized and thanked for their efforts, so I would take a pic of each donation and thank each donor personally on my facebook page.

— Tiernan Ramer