WBU hoops team gathering shoes, donations to help Kenyans

PLAINVIEW – Athletes know a thing or two about the importance of good shoes regardless of the game or the playing surface. They also know that the lack of shoes – on or off the court – can make life difficult and dangerous. 

To combat that trend worldwide, the Flying Queens basketball team at Wayland Baptist University is partnering with the Soles4Souls organization to collect funds or shoes to be distributed to needy persons on the other side of the globe.

For the next three weeks, team members will be soliciting donations and will have drop boxes located in town for donations to be made of new or very gently used shoes of any size and style. Funds given will be used to purchase shoes at a discount rate to be sent overseas. While Soles4Souls distributes shoes worldwide in 60 countries on five continents including the United States, Wayland chose to direct their efforts to Kenya since there is already a connection to that nation through the degree program in religion.

“This is a great opportunity for us to be able to give back and support individuals that are less fortunate than we are,” said Tory Bryant, head coach of the Flying Queens.  “Our players and staff have been given a great opportunity to coach and play at Wayland, and this is one way we can give of our time to help others. This is about us blessing others and in turn we may be blessed as well.”

The Soles4Souls organization was founded in 2006 by Wayne Elsey, then a shoe company president, after seeing a shoe washed up on the shore after the 2004 tsunami hit Thailand. The image moved him to make a difference, and he began donating shoes to relief efforts following disasters and enlisting others in the industry to do the same. Soon, Elsey quit his job to join the nonprofit organization he founded and focus solely on distribution and collection of shoes for the needy.

The organization targets underdeveloped nations where people are not able to afford or have access to shoes as well as locations affected by natural disasters like the recent hurricanes on the Texas coast and the tornados that hit Tennessee in the spring.

Soles4Souls was founded on the premise that the lack of shoes in all countries can lead to higher incidences of infectious diseases since residents walk through many foreign and dangerous substances, and they hamper the safety and labor efforts of many in third world countries.

Participation in the Soles4Souls drive through the Flying Queens is possible in two ways. Interested persons may donate funds that can assist in the purchase or shipment of shoes to needy people in Kenya or they may donate new or gently used shoes to the drop boxes.

The boxes will be located on the WBU campus in the McClung Center foyer, in the Student Ministries Activity Center and the Laney Student Activities Center as well as in Plainview at United Supermarket on Olton Road, Hale County State Bank, First Assembly of God, American State Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Happy Union Baptist Church, and Harvest Christian Fellowship.

The charity drive is mutually beneficial as Soles4Souls donates a small portion of the money raised by the Flying Queens team back into the basketball program as thanks for their fundraising efforts. Those funds will be used to help the team with program expenses.

For more information, contact Bryant at 291-1145.