It was 2007 when Charisma Cannon lost her marketing job in Atlanta, which had the ripple effect of eventually causing her to lose her house. While she was trying to untangle her financial affairs, she was also struck by a mysterious illness doctors couldn’t seem to diagnose. The least amount of activity exhausted her. She spent hours in bed. She moved back to her native Chicago to live with relatives.
The illness continued and now she didn’t have health insurance. Exasperated, one night as she lay in bed, she asked God “What should I do? What do I do to get my life back on track?”
“I got still and listened and I was told to give away new shoes. Shoes? I asked. I thought it was interesting. Then God gave me the name: ShoeHeals. H-e-a-l-s instead of h-e-e-l because when you give people new shoes, you are restoring the human spirit, you are healing.”
Cannon had never thought about starting a charity and she certainly had not given thought to giving away shoes. But after she heard the answer to her question, she got busy.
“I started doing research, first to see who else gave away shoes.” She found other organizations that did, but no one gave away new shoes to the demographic she had chosen to give to.
ShoeHeals gives to children in low income communities; mothers and families in homeless and domestic violence shelters; men and women in transitional houses where they are moving toward self-sufficiency; pregnant teens and runaway teens.”
Cannon discovered that shoes are the least donated item. “People will give you their clothes, their coats, toys, toiletries, all this other stuff before they will give you their shoes,” she said. “It’s because shoes are how we define and project ourselves. Also, people refurbish shoes, get them resoled.”