Skid Row residents stood in line for hours Tuesday to get a new pair of shoes during the kick-off for Barefoot Week. Nearly 2,000 pairs of shoes were distributed in Los Angeles, the first day of a week where more than 10,000 pairs of shoes were expected to be distributed in five cities nationwide.

Soles4Souls, the Nashville-based nonprofit, organized Barefoot Week in an effort to provide new shoes for the homeless. Soles4Souls focuses on providing free shoes to needy people around the world. The organization collects and distributes both new and “gently worn” shoes. Soles4Souls was started by professionals in the footwear industry who use industry resources to make a difference around the world.

“Footwear is a critical need for the homeless in Los Angeles,” said Herb Smith, president of the Los Angeles Mission. “Many homeless and poor have foot issues because of ill-fitting or worn shoes, and the inability to take care of their feet adequately. New, correct sized shoes will make a big difference to their overall health and well-being.”

Celebrities and other volunteers handed out the shoes to those in need who came to the Mission this week. Soles4Soules is the title sponsor of NATIONAL BAREFOOT WEEK (June 1-7), which encourages people to temporarily go barefoot and donate their shoes. CaCee Cobb (Price of Beauty on VH-1), Donald Faison (Scrubs), Suzanne Whang (Househunters) and other volunteers helped make sure that recipients got the right size shoes.

“The partnership demonstrated today between the businesses who make or distribute the shoes and the nonprofits who give them out is a good model for service to the poor and homeless,” said Smith. “Real people really benefit from partnerships like this.”

Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from warehouses of footwear companies and the closets of people like you. They distribute these shoes, free of charge, to people in need around the world. Since 2005, Soles4Souls has given away over 8.5 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes (currently distributing one pair every 9 seconds). The shoes have been distributed in 125 countries, including Haiti, Kenya, Nepal and the United States.

For more than 70 years, the Los Angeles Mission has served the people of Skid Row, providing emergency services such as shelter, food, clothing, as well as professional medical and dental services. In addition, the Los Angeles Mission also offers long-term residential rehabilitation programs including education, job training/placement, transitional housing and counseling.

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