Nashville-based nonprofit Soles4Souls has acquired Dignity U Wear, an apparel charity out of Jacksonville, Fla., in hopes of increasing aid to families in poverty.
Soles4Souls was founded in 2006 and has distributed over 30 million shoes in the past decade. Teaming up with Dignity U Wear, a company that distributes clothing to those in need, Soles4Souls will now be able to access Dignity U Wear’s distribution network – totaling 1.3 million – to help even more people in need.
Founded in 2000, Dignity U Wear began as an organization donating underwear and socks to people experiencing homelessness. Seventeen years later, the group has expanded to include all types of clothing, donating to those in need to “restart their lives.” It’s estimated that Dignity U Wear has donated over $160 million in clothing since their founding.
Now, Dignity U Wear will merge with Soles4Souls, joining forces to reach even more people in need. Soles4Souls will stay based in Nashville, and now they will reach thousands upon thousands across the world. To date, Soles4Souls has reached 127 countries.
“Soles4Souls will be able to leverage the Dignity U Wear apparel inventory to help hundreds of thousands around the world,” said Buddy Teaster, Soles4Souls president and CEO. “At the same time, the Dignity U Wear network will allow Soles4Souls to significantly expand its domestic distribution of free clothes. We are excited about these new avenues to serve those in need and increase our impact.”
The mergence was a natural fit: Dignity U Wear was able to reach a large audience but lacked the resources to cater to such a wide group; Soles4Souls was able to fill the gaps. Soles4Souls will continue many of the events started by Dignity U Wear, including the annual Undie Sunday underwear collection drive in Jacksonville and providing winter clothing for CSX’s annual Santa Train outreach for the poor in the Appalachian area of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Currently, Soles4Souls has partnered with more than 1,000 charitable partner organizations, making it possible for them to reach millions of people annually.
A 2012 World Bank study shows that 90 million people around the world live on less than $1.90 a day; part of Soles4Souls’ mission is to provide short-term relief for families in need and aide them through direct assistance programs, and they pride themselves on “disrupting the cycle of poverty.”