Save the Sole was created by FAMU – The Famuan

Save the Sole “Beat the Heat” donation drive photo courtesy of: Nadia Buggs

There are many ways to give back to those in need and Save the Sole gives back to their community through donations.

Save the Sole is a student-run community project founded in August 2022 by co-founders Takyra Johnson, a fourth-year Pregarding-physical therapy student, and Nadia Buggs, a fourth-year actuarial science student. Their project started as a shoe donation drive where they encouraged FAMU students and the Tallahassee community to give back to those less fortunate by donating a pair of shoes.

Johnson shared the inspiration behind the development of the Save the Sole community service project.

“Tallahassee has a large population of people who are homeless or displaced. It’s something I saw and observed every day, and it would always be close to my heart. I also observed people outside with no shoes on or with very worn shoes. This especially struck me because I love shoes and often spend money on them. It was a real wake-up call to realize that something I enjoy as a fashionable expression is a basic need that another human being lacks,” Johnson said.

“I saw a need for a program like this and decided I needed to contribute in some way, even if it was just a small shoe drive. My roommate at the time, Nadia Buggs, also had a desire to give back to the community, so we came together and started this initiative,” she added.

Save the Sole has completed four donation drives, with the most recent event being the “Beat the Heat Drive,” partnering with the Minority Association of Premedical Students and the Sankofa or Big Brother Little Brother Mentoring Program. The three groups came together and went beyond shoe donations and created care packages for the less fortunate to help others receive summer essentials to combat rising temperatures.

Some items accepted for this ride were slippers, sunscreen, liquid IV, washcloths, deodorant, and wet wipes.

Johnson said they were promoting Save the Sole to encourage others to donate.

“We were heavily dependent on social media for our promotion. I absolutely believe that 90% of our participants achieved it by seeing us on social media,” said Johnson. “We also used word of mouth to reach audiences who might not be as active on social media, such as older community members. Everyone was so helpful in getting involved or spreading the word to participate.”

Buggs said Save the Sole faced challenges in planning the donation drives, noting one event where a total of 200 shoes were collected for donation.

“We had difficulty finding an effective location for our ‘Just Kickin It’ event as well as finding efficient ways to distribute our donations to our target audience once we arrived at the Kearney Center,” Buggs said. “When we arrived at the center, people would often flock to us, so it was difficult to set up an efficient system for distributing our donations to each person.”

Although there were challenges in carrying out the donation drives, Save the Sole hopes their efforts will have an impact and possibly inspire others.

“Save the Sole unfortunately cannot change the systems and inequities in our communities that cause homelessness, hunger and more, but our goal is to touch the hearts of those who receive our donations through a useful pair of shoes or a heartfelt conversation with us and our volunteers,” Buggs said. “I hope those we encounter will see Save the Sole as a hope to continue moving forward.”