If the shoe doesn't fit then donate it

  • Published
  • By Chris Farley, 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
  • 934th Airlift Wing

The mission was simple.

The objective for this operation set by Tech Sgt. Kathryn Cross, 934 AW wing staff additional duty first sergeant, was to clean and organize her personal area of operations, better known as her house. In the process of this task, she collected a lot of unused items that she wanted to donate, especially shoes.

“I was meaning to take them somewhere and get them out of my house. I started thinking about how I could do something different other than take them to Goodwill and drop them off because I thought about how many times you go to Goodwill and there are a bunch of shoes just sitting there,” said Cross.  

So Cross conducted an internet reconnaissance and started mustering intel on viable options for her shoe donation. She came across an organization called Soles4Souls.

“We are a global social enterprise and we actually are committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes. Our ultimate goal is to create an opportunity with new and used shoes we collect,” said Megan Welsh, Director of National Partnerships for Soles4Souls.

The more Cross looked into Soles4Souls she realized it was an excellent cause and Soles4Souls makes it easy for people to donate through convenient drop-off sites or the charity provides the option to print a free shipping label.    

On Wednesday before the October unit training assembly, Cross thought if she had shoes to donate, then perhaps other Airmen in her unit could contribute. At the time, Cross was a 934th Security Forces Squadron fireteam leader and her initial invitation to donate shoes was exclusive to the 934 SFS.

When she got to the UTA, a lot of people were messaging her for donation information and there were also a lot of people that expressed interest in donating, but they got the initial message late. Therefore, Cross extended the event by one more month. At the end of the October UTA, she had collected 15 pairs of shoes and she was hoping to receive double that amount by the end of the November UTA 

“It was not supposed to be big or anything. It was just going to be really small and it grew,” said Cross.

Cross said her 11 years of combined Air Force active duty and reserve service influenced this project, furthermore, she has experienced things in her career that made her more appreciative and guided her to help other people.   

“I think that my Air Force experience and everything I’ve done in the Air Force has opened up my eyes to different cultures and diversities. Putting myself in a position where I if can help somebody is certainly something I love to do,” said Cross. 

By the end of the November UTA, Cross had collected 162 donated pairs of shoes. Since 2006, Soles4Souls has distributed over 51 million pairs of shoes and they are currently working in 127 countries.

“Most importantly, I like to say thank you. Every single shoe makes a difference. So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” said Welsh.