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Soulful Purpose: Hav A Sole Delivers Shoes To Those In Need

Photo Courtesy Hav A Sole

Hav A Sole is a social outreach nonprofit dedicated to getting shoes to kids in underprivileged communities. For the last decade, the organization says it has delivered more than 65,000 pairs of shoes to those in need. It’s a unique work of ESG that has captured the hearts of professional athletes, sports teams, restaurants, and media moguls. 

Rikki Mendias founded Hav A Sole in 2014. After living in homeless shelters with his mother for most of his young life, he was inspired to start this charity. A former resident at one of the shelters noticed Mendias had holes in the soles of his shoes and bought him two pairs — Mendias never forgot her kindness. 

Mendias eventually became a sneakerhead, collecting around 150 pairs of top-brand sneakers. In 2014, he realized some people had no footwear at all. He loaded up his car and drove around donating his sneakers, posting his acts of kindness on social media. The viral video led to an online following. His followers donated sneakers to Mendias’s cause through mail-ins. 

Hav A Sole’s efforts became nationally recognized, which got the attention of the Indiana Pacers and Finish Line, a sportswear outlet.

In 2018, the Hav A Sole team took an epic road trip, stopping in six cities before reaching Indianapolis. They stopped at Finish Line stores, collecting nearly 600 pairs of shoes to be donated on the road. 

The final destination was the Finish Line headquarters in Indianapolis, where the team was invited to a Pacers game. The organization received a check for nearly $92,000 from the Finish Line Youth Foundation and the Herbert Simon Family Foundation.

In 2021, Mendias sat down with Ellen DeGeneres on her daily talk show to tell his story to the country. His mother was in attendance, explaining how the moment the woman in the shelter gave Mendias the shoes impacted his life forever. 

He told DeGeneres that sneakers keep kids’ feet safe and inspire them to participate in sports. At the end of the interview, DeGeneres revealed Shutterfly donated 5,000 pairs of shoes and a custom display rack for Hav A Sole.  

Today, Hav A Sole is one of America’s premier social outreach firms. Mendias continues to donate shoes and raise money to expand his philanthropy. 

Photo Courtesy Hav A Sole

Benefit events have raised funds and awareness for kids needing footwear. At the 2023 event, Steven Simon, co-owner of the Indian Pacers, was honored for his work with the nonprofit. This year, Lakers guard Taurean Prince will be honored. Sponsors like the Lakers and are helping Mendias see his dream come true. 

“I’ve gained more from giving one pair of shoes than I ever did owning hundreds,” Mendias said on his organization’s website.

Not every shoe meets the criteria to be donated, though. “We try our best to bring in quality footwear from the beginning. Once that footwear is accepted, we will hold on to it until it does find a home,” Mendias told The Business Download via email.

“If [there is] footwear that is unacceptable — we will give them to larger brands that have recycling programs.” 

During the NCAA basketball March Madness tournament, Hav A Sole and BJ’s Restaurants teamed up to launch a new fundraiser. On March 15, Hav A Sole held its Dream Out Loud benefit in Los Angeles. 

BJ’s is donating money for shoes and encouraging customers to do the same. From March 11 to April 8, guests who donated $1 or more on its restaurant tab will receive a coupon for a free Pizookie (pizza cookie) on their next visit. A press release shared with The Business Download confirmed the news. 

“BJ’s is joining Hav A Sole in its commitment to bring positive change to those who need it most,” Heidi Rogers, senior vice president of marketing at BJ’s Restaurants, Inc., said in the press release. “Shoes are not a luxury. They are a necessity. We are proud to partner with an organization that shares our vision for making moments matter not only for our guests but also for our community because we believe that the real magic happens when we all join together.”

Video Courtesy NationSwell

Other projects include donating $5,000 worth of shoes with Velous Footwear, an endurance running shoe company based in Portland. Velous is well-known for its Tri-Motion technology and Foamotion, which cushion the foot and recover better than competing brands, the company website says. The Portland chapter of Hav A Sole will donate shoes directly to those staying at Blanchet House, a nonprofit housing venture in Portland.

Iconic sneakers like Air Jordans can cost a pretty penny, which often determines who can purchase them. We asked Mendias his thoughts on the price of Jordans and other streetwear shoes.

“I do believe that the price of sneakers should come down and quantities come up a little. That way, the people that love to wear their shoes do have a better opportunity to get them,” Mendias said. “In the community we serve, sometimes we act as a source of ‘new releases’ for people, and that makes me really happy. I have heard people say, ‘These are my first pair of Jordans.’” 


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