How to Donate Used Running Shoes

How to Donate Used Running Shoes



By JackRabbit guest blogger, Brian Metzler

Those who know me know that I’m a true running shoe geek. I love running shoes, I wear-test hundreds of pairs every year and that also means I hate to part with running shoes. While I have an extensive quiver of shoes in my garage, I do, unfortunately, have to discard a lot of running shoes. Some are badly worn out, but some have less than 100 miles on them.

So, what do I do with my old ones? I never throw them in the trash. That would not only be disrespectful to the experiences I had in them, but also to the handiwork that went into building them by factory workers overseas.

Plus, it would be purely wasteful, especially knowing there’s someone, somewhere who could benefit from getting them. I typically donate my used shoes to One World Running, a Boulder, Colo., organization that collects used shoes, cleans them up and distributes them to people in need in Central America, Africa and the Caribbean.

one world running


The volunteer organization was started in 1986 after running journalist Mike Sandrock after he returned from a trip to Cameroon, West Africa. Many of the runners from Cameroon ran barefoot and afterwards, Sandrock convinced a group of Boulder’s elite runners—including Lorraine Moller, Steve Jones and Arturo Barrios—to donate shoes to he could ship them to West Africa.

A few years ago, I had the honor of joining One World Running on a service trip to help hand-deliver shoes to runners in Baracoa, Cuba. Watching an appreciative runner lace up a pair of my old shoes before going out for a run with him was one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever experienced.

“Running is all about community and really we’re one big community worldwide,” Sandrock says. “Sharing, giving back and helping others are vital elements of any community and especially within the running community. Donating shoes offers the chance for people—especially young children and teens—to experience the same freedom, joy and community we get from being fortunate enough to buy new running shoes from a running store.”

For more than 30 years, a group of volunteers in Boulder has collected, washed, and sent more than 50,000 pairs of shoes, as well as T-shirts and shorts, to needy athletes and children around the world. The Boulder Running Company has always been one of the biggest collection points, but the project has grown as shoes and athletic equipment been sent in from around the U.S.

Do you have shoes you’ve run a lot of miles in and are ready to give up? Worn out sneakers can be put to good use resurfacing tracks and playgrounds, while like-new shoes could be life changing to those without.

Here are organizations that will give your shoes a new life so they don’t have to wind up in a landfill.

organizations that will give your shoes new life


This non-profit was one of the first organizations to collect shoes and athletic clothing for people in need in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean.

Give Your Sole collects used athletic shoes at races and distributes them to those in need around the U.S.

Soles4Souls says it delivered more than 19 million pairs of shoes in 125 countries since 2004. They collect new and gently used shoes for relief efforts and micro-enterprise business efforts in Haiti, Central and South America and Africa.

With 1.8 million pairs of shoes delivered to date, this Chicago-based organization collects gently worn shoes in Illinois, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania and Arizona for worldwide redistribution.

In addition to collecting used shoes for distribution in Africa, this New York non-profit raised money to help build the first public children’s hospital in Kenya, a modern, 200-bed facility in Eldoret.

Worn out shoes are recycled into a material called Nike Grind and used to surface running tracks, playgrounds and indoor and outdoor athletic courts, with nearly 30 million pairs being repurposed since 1990.

About Author

Melanie Mitchell

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