Soles4Souls representatives Heath and Melissa Bain stopped by Texas Woman's University on Wednesday to collect new and gently worn shoes and educate students about how they can get involved with the organization.
Soles4Souls has been collecting shoes and giving them to those in need since 2005. The group helps people in 127 countries, including the United States.
The Bains are living in a recreational vehicle for a year and traveling to colleges across the country to interact with students.
"We want to educate college-age folks about how they can get involved," Heath Bain said.
Helping Hands, a volunteer organization at TWU, helped collect shoes for Soles4Souls.
Students in the organization began collecting shoes before the Bains arrived and will take the shoes to the organization's Dallas warehouse.
"I think it's for a good cause," said TWU student Linh Nguyen, service projects chairwoman for Helping Hands.
She said some people take having items such as shoes for granted.
She has traveled in Asia, to places such as Vietnam and China, visiting orphanages where children don't have adequate clothing.
"It means a lot to them to just have a pair of shoes," Nguyen said.
TWU's goal was to collect 200 pairs of shoes, but the shoes hadn't been counted by the end of the day Wednesday.
Bags and tubs of various sizes of shoes ranging in style from pink flip-flops to brown cowboy boots were piling up in the Student Union offices as the day went on.
The university will be collecting donations until Friday.
Soles4Souls takes all types of shoes, including athletic shoes, high heels and snow boots.
"We don't turn a whole lot away," Heath Bain said.
But the organization encourages people to think about the fact that their shoes could become someone else's first pair of shoes.
Melissa Bain said that even if the shoes are too worn to give to someone, the organization will strip the rubber and recycle it.
"There's still a use for it," she said.
This is the second year the organization has sponsored the RV tour. Last year, the tour visited various civic organizations, such as Boys and Girls Clubs.
The pair first found out about the organization last year and went to Haiti to distribute shoes as part of the organization's Travel4Souls program.
"You actually kneel down and wash their feet," Melissa Bain said of going to different countries and distributing shoes. Then the volunteers determine the shoe size and put the shoes on the recipient's feet.
The couple started living in the RV in March and has traveled to Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.
They are now off to Oklahoma City to visit Oklahoma Christian University.
For more information, visit www.soles4souls.org .
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .