The recent earthquakes in Haiti left thousands without homes, jobs and families. Streets are littered with glass and metal, and thousands of survivors are without proper footwear. A student at Freed-Hardeman, Arianne Krulish wants to change this. She launched Project: Haiti, a campaign that started on campus and spread to the entire community. The plan? Raise 10,000 shoes and send to Haiti through Soles4Souls, a global footwear non-profit organization.
Soles4Souls has been counting on the influence of interested individuals since 2004 to help meet the needs of at-risk areas around the world. The charity relies on the individual efforts of concerned citizens who have a heart of giving.
Krulish, a senior at Freed-Hardeman, enlisted fellow students, faculty and friends in a mission to meet the sizable goal of 10,000 pairs by February 11, 2010. She said, “If everyone makes a goal that is somewhat challenging and sticks to it, I have no doubt that we can get 10,000 pairs.”
Krulish challenged fellow FHU students to pledge only two pairs of shoes to the Soles4Souls effort and looked to area businesses, schools and churches to do the same: “If everyone gave two pairs, we’d already be halfway there.”
In recent weeks, Project: Haiti gained the support of Payless Shoes, Jackson Christian, Chester County Schools and several others. Krulish was also able to get the word out to area congregations that were visiting FHU’s campus for it’s annual Bible Lectureship. Shoe drop off points were overwhelmed with donations from churches across the United States.
While the disaster in Haiti was what spurred the reaction of so many Freed-Hardeman students, Krulish said, “This is a great avenue of service. This is what Christians ought to be doing.” Soles4Souls faculty contact, Dr. Greg Massey acknowledged the tendency of some to display hesitancy in giving but says, “This is much more tangible…even one pair of shoes makes a difference.”
While collecting shoes seems easy enough, the Soles4Souls volunteers at FHU spent countless hours consolidating, rubber banding, packaging and transporting the shoes. The final night of packing turned into an entire campus event with students texting and emailing one another: “Desperate help needed with shoes NOW!” Krulish said, “This took the work of a lot of people and we were all unified behind one cause. It was beautiful!”
Through Krulish and a team of dedicated students FHU was able to work alongside the community of Henderson to make this dream reality for thousands of Haitians in need. In the end the campaign raised a resounding 14,000 pairs of shoes – and that’s just the ones they counted. Several boxes still remain, sorted but uncounted, and will soon be sent to Port-au-Prince via the Haiti relief efforts of the Estes Church of Christ in Henderson. Another large batch is being sent to the Soles4Souls headquarters in Nashville, TN where they will be cleaned, laced and shipped to their ultimate destination in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.