How to Donate Your Used Running Shoes

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Can your old athletic shoes be recycled or used in other ways to benefit good causes? Runners replace their running shoes fairly frequently and you may have a pile in your closet that you'd like to donate. You may also have nearly-new shoes that just didn't work for you but you wore enough that you couldn't return them to the store. Here are some organizations that collect used running shoes.

Where to Donate Worn Shoes

Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe Program collects worn-out athletic shoes of any brand, not just Nike. They keep them out of landfills and recycle them into material used in sports surfaces such as basketball courts, tennis courts, athletic fields, running tracks, and playgrounds for kids around the world. They also use the resulting "Nike Grind" in 71 percent of their products, such as in the fabric or the shoe upper or the zipper pull of a jacket. You can find a store location to drop off your shoe donation, usually at a Nike Factory Store or Nike employee store.

Where to Donate Both Nearly-New or Used Shoes

One World Running is an international program promoting awareness of health, fitness, and nutrition by providing running shoes to those in need in the United States and around the world. They have drop-off locations and they receive shoes from shoe drives hosted by running clubs and Girl Scout troops. They send the near-new shoes overseas, while the others they give to Nike to be used in making the Nike Grind.

Where to Donate Nearly-New or Gently-Used Shoes

If you'd like to see your shoes used by those in need, in the U.S. or around the world, these charities provide that service:

  • Soles4Souls is a shoe charity that gives "gently used" shoes to those in need. You can print a shipping label to ship the shoes to them or you can find a drop-off site. The Soles4Souls team started as a way to help those impacted by the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. netting over a million pairs donated for those disasters. Since 2006 they have distributed 30 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries and all 50 states. In addition to providing the footwear as second-line relief in disaster-stricken areas, they have ongoing work to support micro-enterprise entrepreneurs who sell the shoes as a way to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. They partner with Zappos4Good to provide mailing labels for your shoes and usable clothing.
  • Share Your Sole is an Illinois-based organization that collects, cleans, and distributes gently-used shoes to needy and impoverished people all over the world. They accept gently worn or new shoes of any kind. They have many drop-off sites in the Chicago area. They ask that you box, seal, and label the shoes with Share Your Sole before taking them to the drop-off location. You can box them all together, but they limit the number to five pairs.

    You'll feel great having decluttered your living space and sent your shoes off to those who can use or recycle them.

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