For the past two years, nonprofit Shoes for Your Soul has helped thousands of children in need in New Jersey.
“I was born and raised in Camden so I wanted to give back where I came from,” said Dawn Lewis, founder of Shoes for Your Soul.
The nonprofit collects new shoes to give to students in Camden County school districts. Lewis didn’t have a hard time finding support from the community and even national corporations.
But all those donations needed somewhere to go. Renting a large unit with drive up accessibility has allowed Shoes for Your Soul to grow by giving Lewis the space to accept and store new shoes and socks.
“We got storage because we don’t have a building and I couldn’t do it in my home,” Lewis said. “Public Storage has been a blessing for us to be there.”
Lewis still remembers the day when she rented her 10x20 unit. She was organizing her inventory and her sisters came by to donate shoes to her collection. The trio took a photo to commemorate the joyous occasion.
And prior to every shoe donation, Lewis can be found in her Public storage unit going through inventory and loading up a rental truck.
It’s been nearly 50 years since Public Storage first rolled up its Orange Doors, and throughout the years, our property managers have been then to help nonprofits like Shoes for Your Soul.
The Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey area is rich with small businesses and non-profit organizations, said Gavin Beier, a senior district manager for Public Storage.
With over 50 local locations and a variety of different sizes and types, Public Storage is always able to provide for these great companies, he said. Whether it be large drive up units or interior climate controlled, Beier said Public Storage can accommodate any inventory need.
“We appreciate what these organizations do for not just the local but the global community as well,” he said. “Public Storage will continue to do our part to help them thrive.”
Shoes for Your Soul organization for example was formed January 21, 2019, on Martin Luther King Jr. service day, and in those two years she has been able to give away over 2,000 shoes.
“We are venturing all over the world,” Lewis shared. “We have sent shoes to Ghana, and we have sent shoes to the Dominican Republic.”
She started to give away shoes in school districts when she learned there were twins being bullied at their school for their shoes in October 2019. Her next school drive was January 2020 but when the pandemic hit in March 2020, Lewis had to put a hold on shoe giveaways.
It wouldn’t be for another seven months until she was able to participate in a public event and give away 175 pairs of shoes.
There is only one rule at the Shoes for the Soul donation drives -- parents cannot pick out the soles.
“As they’re growing up, let them express who they are. If they want the shoes with flashing lights, they’re only going to want them for a period of time,” she said. “So why not allow them to enjoy what they like?”
And as the nonprofit continues to expand, Lewis wants to be able to continue to give shoes to children she’s helped as they grow out of their shoes and in need of new soles.