Ben Shackelford, an Appoquinimink High School senior, has launched a shoe drive in Middletown that aims to help children and families in need through the Soles4Souls organizations. Shoe donations (new and gently used) can be dropped off through March 2 at Elite Feet, 5238 Summit Bridge Road, Middletown.

Those gently used shoes you no longer want or need can create sustainable jobs and provide relief to poverty stricken-families around the globe. That’s the message being delivered by Ben Shackelford, an Appoquinimink High School senior who’s launched a shoe drive in Middletown that aims to help children and families in need. Inspired by a senior project assignment, he’s recruited Elite Feet to serve as the collection site.

Shoe donations (new and gently used) can be dropped off through March 2 at Elite Feet, 5238 Summit Bridge Road, Middletown.

The shoes that Shackelford collects will be delivered to Soles4Souls, a non-profit social enterprise that creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world. Founded in 2006, the organization has distributed more than 30 million pairs of new and used shoes in 127 countries.

“I am a strong supporter of Soles4Souls’ mission. By recruiting the support of friends, family, and the community, we hope to take a big step in providing the organization with the new and gently used shoes they require to disrupt the cycle of poverty around the globe,” said Shackelford.

Soles4Souls will convert every used pair of shoes into a value-added social currency to achieve both humanitarian and economic positive change. Gently-used shoes will be distributed to micro-enterprise programs that create jobs in Haiti, Honduras, and other developing nations. The resulting revenue will help fund the free distribution of new shoes in the U.S., Canada, and developing nations around the world.

The World Bank estimates that approximately 900 million people live on less than $1.90 per day. In places like Haiti, more than two-thirds of the labor force are unemployed. Without jobs, families are unable to buy adequate footwear, having significant ramifications for their health and well-being. Tens of millions are at risk of infection from soil-transmitted parasitic diseases like hookworm that can cause lasting suffering and lifelong debilitation.

“The simple truth is that almost anyone with a closet has shoes they don’t wear, or an old pair that will just end up in a landfill,” said Shackelford. “Give those to me and know that you are taking a step to making the world a better place for all of us.”

For more information, email Shackelford at beshack3@gmail.com.