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Lugoff teen collects shoes for those in need

Posted: September 1, 2010 10:18 a.m.
Updated: September 1, 2010 10:08 a.m.

Claire Yount, daughter of Ed and Gina Yount, granddaughter of Don and Barbara Branham, all of Lugoff, and granddaughter of Bob Yount, of Greenville, is a 13-year-old philanthropist. In addition to donating hair to Locks of Love, gathering newspaper for the Walter M. Crowe Animal Shelter and collecting can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, Claire organizes shoe drives for Soles4Souls.

Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from the warehouses of footwear companies and private donations. The charity distributes these shoes free of charge to people in need, regardless of race, religion, class, or any other criteria. Since 2005, Soles4Souls has given away more than 10 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes (currently donating one pair every seven seconds). The shoes have been distributed to people in more than 125 countries, including Kenya, Thailand, Nepal and the United States. Soles4Souls has been featured in Runner's World, Ladies’ Home Journal, National Geographic’s Green Guide, and The New York Times. It has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, BBC, CNN and thousands of regional news outlets across North America. Soles4Souls is a 501(c)(3) recognized by the IRS and donating parties are eligible for tax advantages.

After reading a newspaper article about Soles4Souls in June 2009, Claire decided to join the cause. In July 2009, she collected 500 pairs of shoes thanks to the donations of family, friends, and the members of her church, Lugoff-First Baptist Church (LFBC). Claire and her father, Ed, loaded up the family mini-van and made the 14 hour round trip to Roanoke, Ala., to deliver all those shoes to the Soles4Souls Warehouse. This year, Claire set her sights a bit higher, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 shoes, and expanded her drive accordingly. This time she enlisted donations from not only family, friends, and LFBC, but also Lugoff-Elgin Middle School, Camden Elementary School and Bethune Baptist Church. In May, Claire collected 1,299 shoes. After collecting, organizing, and packaging the shoes, Claire (along with Ed and her older sister, Ashton) again trekked to Roanoke to deliver the shoes.

Claire has big plans to collect even more shoes next summer, so when cleaning out the closet, save those gently used shoes until May. Claire invites everyone to help her collect 2,011 shoes in 2011.

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