Action: Sole Hope Shoe-Cutting Party

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Sole Hope is an organization whose goal is to give hope to widows, orphans and others who are struggling. A few months ago a guest blogger, Steph, posted about this organization on the Average Advocate (take a second to look at her post, especially if you are unfamiliar with Sole Hope). At that time I decided that I would have my own Sole Hope Party.  Then I could let you know how easy or hard or fun or weird it was.

Why Sole Hope?

Sole Hope is cool because they solves multiple problems at once. They spur sustainable development by providing fair-wage jobs by hiring people to sew shoes together in Uganda, Zambia, and in the States. Then by giving away these away in impoverished areas where families haven’t been able to afford shoes, Sole Hope helps kids so they don’t get diseases, parasites, and other ouchies in their feet. But what makes this organization stand out is that they give us Americans an easy way to give of our time and resources. They don’t just need our money, although need this too (giving $10 actually gets a pair of shoes on a child). But, they need us average advocates to put our scissors to work on our crumpled old jeans, spending that tedious time to cut-out shoe parts.

So, how was the Sole Hope party?

It was good and unexpected.

Unexpected because of the one-hundred women I invited, most of the people who came I wouldn’t had expected would come. I didn’t even know everyone there- they were friends of friends. For some reason, I expected that the people who would come would be the those in my “you are often part of my life” circle. Of course, there were a few of my close friends there. But overall it was a rather random group. Which was cool, as we all got along okay. It was actually a pretty good way to get to know other people. We connected.

It was also unexpected because we only made about 40 pairs of shoes. Okay, I know that is still good, eighty more shoes for forty kids who need them. But, for some reason I just assumed we would have made more than that.  After 2-3 hours of shoe-cutting under our belt, we averaged at a little less than two pairs of shoes per person. Since then, a few of us have worked to cut out more parts of shoes to complete the missing pairs of shoes. We’ve put a lot more than a couple hours into this project.

How do you pull-off a Sole Hope Party?

Advance Prep:

First, look on this page and send an email to the person listed there who will help you get your party going. Or you can start by ordering a “kit” (go here) which gives you resources and directions.

Second, send out an Evite like this one or fill out this contact form, asking me to send you a pdf version of an invitation flyer to use.

T hen, start collecting materials. Mainly its just the sheers. Pinking sheers. Make it a game. A facebook post. Finding pinking sheers is kinda like finding a dog-sled in a city in Florida. But let it be known: I NOW OWN PINKING SHEERS.

Old jeans and plastic milk jugs/cardboard juice cartons were the other thing that were harder to get. Its nice to have a big piece of cardboard to cut out patterns, along with safety-pins, Ziploc bags, sharpies, scissors and material. I pretty much didn’t even bother with those things. I was worried a few days before that I wouldn’t have any material, because, well, I didn’t have any. But my friends brought their old scrubs and Starbucks work aprons and old curtains. Everyone brought a couple things, but when complied together it ended up being a lot of stuff. So, now I own a lot of colored sharpies which people left behind. Score! I LOVE colored sharpies (sadly, so do my kids)!

Start bugging your friends to come. Ask them each personally. Then maybe they will!

Party Day:

Ideally you should probably look through the packet and instructions a few days before your party. And maybe you should prep some food in advance, too. Irresponsibly, I did neither. But I did clean my house, which is short of miraculous! A couple hours before I started scurrying around and got everything ready.

When my first guests came in, I didn’t know what to do with them so I gave them the patterns to cut out on cardboard for everyone to use. My friend was more prepared; for her party she did this in advance. But, this worked as good entertainment for my arrivals until we really got started.

After about forty minutes, we dragged people downstairs around my tiny TV in shifts, letting them watch the Sole Hope DVD. It was there that I discovered that there were actually instructions, just for me, on how to do a Sole Hope Party! So, rewind to advance prep and look at the DVD when you first get it!

The shift of people not watching the DVD served themselves food and were given instructions from my friend, Katie, who had previously done a Sole Hope Party. Multiple times, she forcefully told everyone that they MUST cut the cloth with pinking sheers. Lets just say she had some experiences at her own party to make sure it the shoe-cutting would go right at mine. Katie was pretty much the only one there who knew what she was doing. I was just playing hostess, busying myself going up and down the stairs, answering questions, finding paper plates and talking with everyone.

After that people just cut-out shoe parts wherever they found room to sit in my house. It was exhilarating. Eventually people started trickling away with the hope of doing it again somewhere sometime. We didn’t totally clean up until a little before eleven.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Get a sidekick to help you do this party. You will need another person to help direct while you are hosting.
  2. Cloth/denim scraps are recyclable. I think? At least that’s what I did with them!
  3. Don’t buy your guests chips/salsa. They will bring five things of chip/salsa all by themselves and leave them for you to eat later (yum!).
  4. Old scrubs can be cut into many a splendid thing (besides shoes).
  5. Give people a next step- I had a few people decide to do their own Sole Hope party and multiple others sign up to bring a Thanksgiving Dinner through L2F Needs Network before the night was through.
  6. Have a resource table set up.  A place to put the Sole Hope information, an envelope for donations, next-step sign up,  and whatever other info you’d like your guests to look at (yes, I had this website out on the table).
  7. Ask them in advance to bring $10 to sponsor a child getting shoes. I should have done that…and read the kit instructions before the day of the party!
  8. Expect to be piecing together random shoe-parts and cutting out the missing pieces for awhile after the party.
  9. If Sole Hope asks you to do more than one shoe size, make sure you have an even amount of people working on each size.
  10. Have kids do it! I only had a couple of girls here, and I wish I made more of a point to invite kids to come help.

O verall, I loved the enthusiasm everyone had. I even found myself cutting out shoe-parts for weeks afterwards while mindlessly watching TV. One day when my husband came home he found me zoned-out like that. He was like “Are you doing slave-labor again? Do you realize you are voluntarily doing slave-like work to help other people who otherwise might end up being slaves themselves?” I busted-up laughing, as I thought that was funny, although sadly ironic. I hadn’t thought of it that way. But it is true, investing in a project like Sole Hope does helps children, but it also gives jobs to vulnerable people because they are trapped in poverty.

Let me know if you are interested in doing a Sole Hope party! And, again, if you want to learn more about this organization, click on their logo below.

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8 Comments

  1. Comment by AmberNo Gravatar:

    Sorry I abandoned you and left you without a sidekick :(

  2. Comment by KatieNo Gravatar:

    Yay! Thank you for writing this! Have you mailed yours in yet? I still need to get mine together to mail. Let me know when you do it and we can split the cost. For the record, we only made 38 pairs of shoes at my party. :)

  3. Comment by StephNo Gravatar:

    AWESOME!!! Loved reading about the eclectic group that made 40 PAIRS! :-)

  4. Comment by Dorothy HollandNo Gravatar:

    It was fun and inspirational. We are looking forward to having onein January. We will invite everyone!!

  5. Ping from Art of Advocacy: Supporting the Causes of Others to be World Changers – The Average Advocate:

    [...] week has been cutting out parts of shoes with her daughter because she was inspired by our recent Sole Hope party. And now a few other people want to do their own [...]

  6. Ping from Spreading Hope One Shoe at a Time – The Average Advocate:

    [...] Here is the link to the post Elisa wrote about her Sole Hope party, about how to pull one off:  Action: Sole Hope Shoe-Cutting Party. But she is helping others start them in Northern Virginia, so keep an eye on the Local [...]

  7. Comment by AnyaNo Gravatar:

    OH WOW! What great advice! I just found you from Nat @ Take The Cannoli’s & her post on Sole Hope. AMAZING because last night I met with my church’s planning committee to think of new ideas for community outreach and service… unfortunately I didn’t have any great new ideas, but I do now! I know my church would love the idea of working with Sole Hope and I am going to pass the idea along to my pastor! So hopefully we will be hosting our own cutting parties soon! God Bless :)

    • Comment by ElisaNo Gravatar:

      That is awesome! I am glad this can help! If you ever have a story you want to share on here, to give the rest of us an idea of how we can do something, let me know. Otherwsie, feel free to subscribe to this blog so that whenever I had an idea you will get it. If only I had more ideas! But I am glad you love the shoe party, it really is a perfect thing to do as a church together. Let me know how it goes!

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