I generally think that if I post something publicly that it holds me more accountable. So when I decided to enter and let the blogosphere know, I thought the hard part was done. And then I remembered how I posted about trying a sleep schedule, or starting a new fitness routine, or entertaining losing weight. And every single time, I failed to follow through.
It’s not that I can’t follow through. I just get overwhelmed and think that I’m not capable of it.
When I signed up to be part of this blogger challenge to collect shoes, I was excited. And then immediately, I felt overwhelmed. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. But one thing was for sure. I did NOT want to fail.
I put out a call for help. I needed help organizing and collecting and coming up with ways to reach out to the greater community (something I’m not always good at).
And you know what happened?
You all rose to the challenge. You gave me all sorts of ideas and inspiration and I went to work.
I contacted several organizations known to get involved in charitable endeavors. The idea was well-received but not something that could fit into their calendar. I felt slightly defeated but carried on.
What incentive could I give people to help me besides the goodness of their own heart?
I decided to see if I could make a business proposition. I offered a swap: shoes for social media consulting. On my business site, Social Dialect, I put out a call for businesses or bloggers looking for an hour of consulting on anything related to social media or blogging. And you know what happened? Not only did people love the concept but I actually had people sign up!
As a result, I’ll be spending the next few weeks consulting with five bloggers and one business and I couldn’t be more excited about forming these relationships. They helped the community and now I get to help them. I wish we could work this way more often.
I also wanted a way to engage my friends. I knew I could put the call out there and have people rise to the occasion but I wanted to deliver the message face to face and have fun at the same time.
I sat down to think.
Wine. Shoes. Wine. Shoes.
And then it came to me. I was going to host a Wine Tasting for all my best girlfriends in town! I would supply plenty of flipflop wine and hors d’oevres (because I love to host parties anyway) and invite everyone I knew with one simple catch: the cost of admission was one pair of shoes.
I invited over 60 people (knowing that many wouldn’t be able to make it). I put the word out and hoped “if I plan it, they will come.”
I had 11 wonderful ladies join me for an evening of wine and girl talk. They dropped their shoes off at the door and we sat around and chatted like we were all best friends.
The best part? They legitimately wanted to know more about Soles4Souls and what the shoe drive was all about. Needless to say, I was quite humbled by my friends.
Those that couldn’t make it were sure to tell me they had shoes for me. I made my rounds around town picking up shoes from people’s home and offices. I was able to meet online friends for coffee, at lunch, and even in a parking lot on a cold and windy day. I even met friends of friends in preschool parking lots to collect shoes.
And while I collected bags and boxes that took over my foyer, I had other friends around the country doing their part. They were collecting shoes on my behalf either as a participant in my consulting swap or simply, honest and truly, out of the goodness of their heart.
In the end, every single person found a place to drop off their shoes and therefore saved the shipping expenses. As for me? I had a large number so I wasn’t quite as fortunate. I had 8 boxes weighing in at just over 210 lbs. I was able to get everything shipped out for about $160. Ouch.
But actually, I thought that was a fitting end to my shoe drive. You know why? Because it made me stop to think the scale of this operation.
By 2010, Soles4Souls had delivered 10 million pairs of shoes. Ten million. Imagine what it takes to collect, sort, and distribute those shoes to 127 countries around the world. It’s no small affair. And it certainly costs more than $160.
I was thrilled just to be one small part of the process and maybe learn a few things along the way.
I learned that it starts with one person. One little person. One person who writes one little post and sends out one little tweet and hosts one little party. And now, 246 people will have shoes they didn’t have before.
Four hundred and ninety two pairs of shoes.
THANK YOU BLOGOSPHERE!
If this were a movie, this is when the credits would start rolling. If you liked the film, you’d probably get up and leave. But if you loved the film, you’d want to know every intimate detail.
My entry into this challenge would have never been possible without the following people:
Heidi (@conscious_blog) who was my Canadian cohort. She wrote a post on her blog in my support and collected shoes in the Toronto area. I didn’t know Heidi before any of this but was happy to meet her in New York at BlogHer Writers where I was able to give her a proper thank you and hug.
Brandy (@mannlymama) who was a collecting powerhouse from the start and provided me with 35 pairs of shoes she had collected at work. While she’s a local, we had never met and created the perfect excuse to have lunch together.
Misty (@mistymathews) who decided to collect from her home state of Alabama. She appeared on the university TV station and ended up with a nonstop supply of shoes to her office.
Mandi (@MandiMcClure) who lives 3 hours from me gathered up her shoes and sent them back to Raleigh with her sister (who’s local to me) when she came to visit her. Poor Erin had no clue who I was but dutifully dropped off the shoes the night of the wine party. Yes, I did invite her in but she had to get home.
KeAnne (@KeAnne) who planned to attend the party but couldn’t when she was sick gave me the opportunity to meet me in a parking lot and finally put a real face to a real name. And she was just as tall as I thought she’d be.
Kia (@notthecar) who met me for coffee (even though I drank tea) and gave me a large bag of shoes. I think she just wanted to meet me for coffee.
Andrea (@AndreaUpdyke) who drove to my house to drop off her shoes right after a workout with a screaming baby in tow.
Suzanne (@pretty_swell) who enabled me to meet some of her co-workers while I snagged a bag of shoes out of her office.
Cyndi (@convertiblelife) who allowed me to crash her pad for a bag of shoes after a long day at the park with my grumpy preschooler (who wanted to stay for dinner).
Extra special thanks to faraway contributors Sarah (@timemine), Jocelyn (@_scootermarie), and Anne (@LadyAnne525).
And thanks to my girlfriends who surrounded me with food, wine, love, support and shoes! Judie, Martha, Heather (@mommyhaha), Dagmar, Daniele, Andi, Denise, Erin (@ErinCLane), Melissa (@adventuroo and @momcommblog), Heather (@followlinus), and Amy (@amyeover).