At the age of 13, Lindsay Sobel came up with the idea of collecting gently worn shoes and donating them to the homeless who need them.
Lindsay Sobel was a mere youngster when she realized that she could grant her unused shoes a new life instead of letting them collect dust somewhere behind a dark closet. At the age of 13, she came up with the idea of collecting gently worn shoes and donating them to the homeless. According to Los Angeles Daily News, Sobel initially managed to collect 30-40 pairs of shoes from her collection and that of her parents and younger twin siblings. And this was only the beginning of Shoes For Souls.
What started as a plan for a community project to meet the requirements of her Bat Mitzvah, quickly turned into a full-fledged effort to give back to society's most needy. "I wanted to do something that would have a long-lasting impact that I could do for a number of years and then pass on to my younger sister and help as many people as possible," expressed Sobel. She explained that the shoes collected from her family were just sitting in their house as they did not wish to wear them anymore even though they were in good condition.
While attending a basketball game at LA's Staples Center arena, Sobel was shocked to see the huge number of homeless people in the area. "I noticed a lot of them were in really awful living conditions, no way any person should have to live. On top of that, I noticed a lot of them did not even have shoes on," she said according to A Might Girl. This is when "it kind of put things into perspective for me" and she realized that there were other families like hers who had unused shoes that could be handed out to people who would actually use them.
Thank you @ladailynews for highlighting the amazing work of Lindsay Sobel. This is why kid voices are vital & the next generation is worth fighting for.— Aarika Rhodes 🍎🦉🧢 (@AarikaRhodes) January 2, 2021
The next generation of leaders.
🙌🏽❤️🎉#shoesforsoul #cancelpoverty #SanFernandoValley #SFV #LosAngeles pic.twitter.com/RFUyYrs0ar
Fast forward to four years, a 17-year-old Sobel has accumulated nearly 30,000 pairs of shoes from across the city and is glad to see homeless people wearing them. Per reports, the teenager, accompanied by her family, actually drives from porch to porch in a caravan picking up donated shoes before handing them to two nonprofits, shelters, and many city parks with homeless shelters. Sobel's selfless efforts were recognized when she was named the 2017 Chatsworth Youth of the Year.
Last year in April, she reached out to CITY Volleyball Club and in just one day, she picked up 2,000 shoes from the porches of 50 homes across the city. Then in November, three caravans driven by her father, mother, and grandfather, set out and collected 1,100 men and women work shoes, heels, workman boots, and daily wear shoes that were donated by Chatsworth and Porter Ranch residents. "This morning we laid out every single pair of shoes on our driveway," she said in December about the efforts of her public benefit company Shoes for the Homeless, Inc., which is committed to providing shoes to those in need in local communities throughout the United States. "We see what types of shoes we have and based on that we determine where we will donate them."
Now, she doesn't donate everything she collects as some of them turn out to be a bit too worn down. "My motto is, if you would wear it, I’ll accept it," she declared. "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." Things were running smooth up until Coronavirus hit the nation. With her resource dried up, Sobel turned to the networking service app for neighborhoods- Nextdoor.
"The challenge for me is that there are this many homeless people right now and the challenge for me is how can I help as many of them as possible," she explained. "Being able to see the work that I’m doing really pay off and help so many different people … when I went to the Long Beach Mission it was a chance to see who I’m giving the shoes to in person. I felt pretty good about myself and great about the community. It also makes me sad to see how big it is and how many things really need to be done."
Lindsay Sobel started Shoes for Souls when she realized many homeless people didn’t have shoes. She has now donated an astounding 30,000 pairs of shoes to people in Southern California! https://t.co/3Dc7ObZXEG— A Mighty Girl (@amightygirl) February 19, 2021
Her father, David, shared, "We all take for granted the whole walking in shoes … and we are on our phones to see how many miles we walk in a given day." He added, "We all take for granted the whole walking in shoes … and we are on our phones to see how many miles we walk in a given day." David is proud that his daughter has learned a valuable lesson in philanthropy that she can take with her anywhere. "It has been so successful because it’s not a hard thing to ask people to do," he said. "We aren’t asking for money; we aren’t asking for something people don’t have. Every person, in their garage or in their closet, has five pairs of shoes they don’t use anymore. It’s something easy."
You can visit www.shoesforsouls.com if you wish to donate to Sobel's charity.