Save the Sole is FAMU-made

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

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

Save the Sole is a student-run community service project that was created in August 2022 by co-founders Takyra Johnson, a fourth-year science pre-physical therapy student, and Nadia Buggs, a fourth-year actuarial science student. Their project began as a shoe donation drive where they encouraged FAMU students and the Tallahassee community to help 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 suffering from homelessness or displacement. It’s something that I saw and observed daily, and it would always tug at my heart. I would also observe people outside with either no shoes on or very worn-out shoes. This especially stood out to me because I love shoes and they’re something that I often splurge on. It was a real wake-up call to realize that something I enjoy as a fashionable expression is a basic necessity that another human is lacking,” Johnson said.

“I saw that there was a need for a program like this and I decided that I should contribute in some way, even if it was just a small shoe drive. My roommate, Nadia Buggs at the time, also had the 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” where they partnered with the Minority Association of Premedical Students and The Sankofa of Big Brother Little Brother Mentoring Program. The three groups came together and expanded beyond just shoe donations and created care packages for the less fortunate to help others receive summer necessities to fight the rising temperatures.

Some items accepted for this drive were flip-flops, sunscreen, liquid IV, washcloths, deodorant, and wet wipes.

Johnson said they promoted Save the Sole to encourage others to donate.

“We relied heavily on social media for promotion. I definitely believe 90% of our participants came through by seeing us on social media,” Johnson said. “We also used word of mouth to reach audiences that might not be as active on social media such as older members of the community. Everyone was so supportive in either participating or spreading the word to participate.”

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

“We had trouble finding an effective location for our “Just Kickin It” event as well as 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 tended to flock to us so it was hard to establish an efficient system in distributing our donations to each person.”

Even though problems were faced while executing the donation drives, Save the Sole hopes that their efforts make an impact and potentially inspire others.

“Save the Sole unfortunately cannot change the systems and disparities 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 that we encounter will see Save the Sole as hope to keep moving forward.”