MILLBURN, NJ - Two Millburn High School students Will and Mae Maddox, a Junior and Freshman, recently decided to host a used shoe collection drive with the help of the non-profit organization Soles 4 Souls. These two students both hope to support needful families in various third-world countries. Collection boxes have been placed in various locations around Millburn, in addition to their own school. They hope many more people will reach out and allow for the placement of a collection box at their own business center. 

“My sister and I wondered how we could contribute to the bigger picture and help people outside our home town.” says Will Maddox, “We hope inspire and bring hope to people around the world who are not quite as privileged as we are!” 

Will and Mae both describe how in many countries less fortunate than ours, individuals and families simply do not have the opportunity to provide for the people they love. Economies in third-world are exceedingly limited, unable to provide adequate work for its citizens. Many countries and towns lack in accessibility of foot protection and are forced to live day to day barefoot.  By offering shoes to micro-finance an individual or family, the opportunity to administer a small business is provided, but also to supply a small town with affordable footwear. Micro-financing programs provide more sustainable life improvements for families and communities than straight donations. 

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Why specifically Soles 4 Souls? Will and Mae revealed their initial inspiration was from Cynthia Kounaris, a business executive and Soles 4 Souls board advisor, and now an strategic advisor to their efforts. 

“It is a worthy and reliable organization, which truly hopes to help the needy and make the world a better place by empowering underprivileged - mostly women in poverty - to create a living through the reselling of shoes,” says Kounaris. 

Will and Mae point out that Soles 4 Souls not only creates micro-financing opportunities, but also works towards reducing the waste in increasingly large landfills. Americans waste more than 300 million pairs of shoes every year, according to certain studies. These shoes go to waste sitting in growing landfills each year, when they could be re-used to help the environment and used to provide people with footwear. Another reason the students chose Soles 4 Souls was the accessible and helpful support from the organization. They described how throughout their journey towards their first of many shoe drives, Soles 4 Souls worked hand-in-hand to make their goal as easy as possible, providing tips to boost effectiveness, as well as flyers and materials to use during their collection. 

Mae shared, “I am excited about supporting Soles 4 Souls and their support of our dream to impact a picture bigger than ourselves.”

Will and Mae ask Millburn residents and businesses to aid them in their goal. Already, the Simon Westfall-Kwong Real Estate of Keller Williams at 518 Millburn Avenue has volunteered to collect shoes on their behalf and collected shoes at their recent Home Expo at the Short Hills Hilton. The students hope many other businesses and public facilities around Millburn Township will be willing to do the same. Will and Mae have faith that the residents of Millburn will contribute their used shoes to improve the environment and help the people counting on us.