Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘rebecca-beder’

Interview with Soles4Souls

Posted on November 26th, 2012 by pajamapress

Kato, the main character in Alma Fullerton and Karen Patkau’s new picture book A Good Trade, is overwhelmed with gratitude when he receives a pair of shoes. Did you ever wonder why? What makes a pair of shoes so exciting? To answer that question, we’re interviewing representatives from organizations that have devoted themselves to shoes, kids, and changing lives. Today our featured organization is Soles4Souls.

Soles4Souls first sent shoes to those in need when our founder, Wayne Elsey, saw the aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami. He was a footwear executive and pulled his resources and contacts together to send shoes to the victims. He did the same during Hurricane Katrina—this led him to start the charity!

Where do your shoes come from?

Our shoes come from our incredible donors. Our used shoes come from individuals and their workplaces, schools, churches, town community centers and more. In addition, we have a team that works directly with shoe designers, manufacturers, retailers, distributors and warehouses to procure their excess inventory.

Where do they go?

Our shoes go everywhere! We distribute here in the United States and in 127 other countries around the world. We only send new shoes to locations in the United States, while we distribute both new and used product internationally. Some of our used inventory is utilized for micro businesses purposes to help eradicate poverty in third world countries.

Some people worry that an influx of donated shoes can disrupt local businesses and economies. Do you have any measures in place to protect or encourage sustainable economies in the places where you work?

We sure do! When we travel internationally to distribute shoes, we give them to orphanages and schools. These are people who could otherwise not afford a pair of shoes and who could contract diseases from not wearing shoes. We also work with micro enterprise partners to offer shoes as a means of a sustainable income. Our micro-enterprise program does not interfere, but enhances the local economy and provides long-term sustainability for women and men in developing nations.

Do you have a favorite story or experience from you work with Soles4Souls that you would like to share?

Yeah! I have the pleasure of hearing the stories from some of our top donors and sharing them on our blog. One of my favorites is of a little girl in Canada who collected shoes for us. She made a video invitation to her birthday party and asked friends and family to bring her shoes to give to kids in need, rather than buying her a gift. It’s inspiring to see someone as young as seven years old making a difference in the world!

What is your organization’s vision for the future?

There are approximately 1.5 billion people in the world without shoes and 300 million of them are children. Our vision and goal is to drastically lower that number.

Rebecca Cicione is a Social Media Engagement Specialist with Soles4Souls. She has been working with the organization since September, 2011.

To learn more about Soles4Souls, visit

Don’t Laugh at Giraffe teaches empathy without preaching—Resource Links

Posted on November 8th, 2012 by pajamapress

This colourful picture book lives its message: one of the best antidotes for sadness is laughter. The illustrations by author/illustrator Rebecca Bender delight the reader even before the humorous and effective twist at the end of the story. A successful element in the interaction of text and image is that Bender bolds the important words—mainly the verbs—on each page. So with the bold verbs creating motion, and the energetic pictures showing action and emotion, what Bender has created is a very lively picture book for young readers, who will be able to pick out the bolded words and match them to the action in the pictures.

In the scorching heat of the African sun, Giraffe and Bird—best friends but always bugging each other—have a tussle and are hot and thirsty. Already, many young readers will identify with two friends who are so dissimilar but yet “you rarely see them apart.” When Giraffe has trouble bending all the way down to the water, and ultimately falls in, all of the animals—including Bird—laugh at him. True to the age of the readership, this hurts Giraffe’s feelings, and he goes away, sad and humiliated. Bird, an insightful little chap for all his flighty ways—soon figures out that there is something he can do to help his friend. No moralizing here, just a little bird thinking about how his friend obviously feels. Young readers will be able to internalize the lesson of empathy well, as it is so subtle; Bender does not preach at all, but merely shows her readers—largely with her beautiful illustrations—one option in this social situation. The answer Bird comes up with is to make a laughing stock of himself: he sings, he dances, he teases the other animals, he makes a complete fool of himself, laughing all the time with the animals he is teasing—even Giraffe. “Anyone can see that the bird loves the attention…and the giraffe finally has a drinkand the reader feels happy and giggly watching Bird floating on his back, spitting water up into the air.

Rating: E – Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!

—Karen Huenemann