NASHVILLE, TN: Soles4Souls, a global social enterprise that collects shoes and distributes them to people in need, has teamed with Carnival Australia, Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic Cargo to deliver clothing and flip-flops to residents of Vanuatu hit by Cyclone Pam in March this year.
"Sometimes, the most challenging part of our job isn't getting items donated, but distributing those items to people in hard to reach places who need them," said Buddy Teaster, CEO of Soles4Souls. "We're grateful and inspired that they've stepped up to transport this important shipment."
The storm, one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the country, destroyed thousands of homes, schools and buildings and displaced an estimated 3,300 people. Many were left without proper footwear and clothing, leaving them prone to injury and disease.
John Lloyd, head of Cargo for Virgin Atlantic said: "We are pleased that through our combined efforts we have been able to help victims of the cyclone. I also want to acknowledge the support of our partners who also gave their administration, trucking, cargo handling and freight forwarding services free of charge as part of this relief effort, notably Intel-AWA Logistics, Worldwide Flight Services and Forward Air in the U.S. and dnata and Geodis Wilson in Brisbane. This was a real team effort."
The shipment was flown from Los Angeles to Brisbane and then on to Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu.
"Supplying footwear in the form of easy-to-freight and fast-to-deliver flip flops might not seem an obvious disaster relief measure at first glance, but Soles4Souls knows from experience that it is because it delivers on a fundamental need," added Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry. "It's a simple idea and a good one that will be greatly appreciated by the people of Vanuatu many of whom lost everything in the cyclone disaster."
To date, Soles4Souls has distributed over 22 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries.