When Lindsay Sobel was 13, she needed a community project to meet the requirements of her Bat Mitzvah. That’s when she came up with the idea of collecting lightly used shoes and donating them to the homeless.
Lindsay, who is from Chatsworth, California, started collecting shoes in her own garage where she amassed some 30 to 40 pairs between her younger twin sibling and parents that were just collecting dust. After realizing that there were probably more families just like her, Lindsay started a nonprofit called Shoes For Souls that have been collecting shoes and distributing them to the homeless since 2017.
On scheduled days, Lindsay and her family rent SUVs and drive in a caravan going from porch to porch picking up donated shoes and dropping them off at two local nonprofits, as well as various city parks where homeless shelters have been set up. Since her humble beginnings at age 13, Lindsay and her nonprofit have collected an incredible 30,000 pairs of shoes.
“As a 13-year-old I was like shoes?” she said. “Everyone has them. It’s something we use every day in our lives and I never realized so many people live without them and it’s such a necessity.”
Lindsay admits she sometimes has to throw away a pair or two that are worn down, but that the overwhelming majority of shoes are perfectly good for donation. “I’ll get a pair of heels without a heel,” she said. “I want to try to give the best experience to all the people. I don’t want to give them a pair of shoes that are … worn down. I don’t want them to think that’s their self-worth. If I would wear them, I keep them. If I wouldn’t, they aren’t acceptable enough to give.”
At the Optimist Daily, it always gives us hope when we see young people like Lindsay stepping up and giving back to their local community. Should you want to donate to her charity, just visit www.shoesforsouls.com.