I've always said "the easy part is collecting the shoes; the challenge is getting the shoes where they're needed affordably." In other words, I need to find and "team up" with a collaboration partner to help with the shipping expense. It's very important to find the right collaboration partner. Many organizations out there that claim to be for humanitarian purposes but are, in fact, for profit. Vetting is critical to make sure the shoes don't end up on the black market in some far away land. As Ronald Reagan used to say, "Trust But Verify." Interestingly, many of the neediest countries prohibit the import of used clothing out of fear that it will end up being sold for profit and also beacuse of the stigma that comes with accepting used clothing.
Receiving the Shoes:
We receive shoes at our home almost daily. Well-intentioned people from almost every state in the U.S.A. as well as donors from China, Korea, Japan, Canada, Singapore, and Mexico have shipped us gently worn shoes. When our garage is full, we transport the shoes in our minivan to Sorrento Valley Self Storage. When the storage unit is full, we load the shoes into a container destined usually for a Fourth World country. Usually the collaboration partner is in charge of the distribution of the shoes. When I can, I try to assist in the distribution process. This also can be a very important step to ensure an orderly distribution. Without proper supervision and procedures, the distribution can become extremely dangerous for those involved. I've seen such chaos and aggression that these desperate people will do almost anything to get a pair of used shoes. I've resorted to using ink on the fingers (similar to the voters you've seen on TV in Iraq and Afghanistan) to identify the people who have already received a pair of shoes so they don't get back in line to receive more pairs. The demand for these old shoes is truly unbelievable. Words can not do justice to describe how appreciated your shoes are. Trust me on this!!