Rock/Creek and Chaco Collect Hundreds of Donated Shoes for Communities in Need, Divert Waste from Landfills

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Chaco teams up with Tennessee-based outdoor retailer on a philanthropic and environmental mission: to divert shoes with life still in them from landfills to those in need. Nashville non-profit, Soles4Souls, to distribute over 500 pairs of donated shoes.

Recycled shoe collection box at Rock/Creek's flagship store in downtown Chattanooga.

I would not hesitate to say there are even more pairs of shoes than the 500

Rock/Creek and footwear manufacturer, Chaco, Inc., announced this week that that on behalf of customers who participated in their Chaco Recycle Program, they will donate over 500 pairs of lightly worn shoes to Soles4Souls, who will distribute them to people in need. This year marked the 6th anniversary of the Chaco Recycle Program, which with help from retailers like Rock/Creek has collected over 14,000 pairs of shoes since its launch in 2004.

The mission of the recycle program is to encourage customers to donate their old but usable shoes rather than tossing them in the trash. During the two week program, Chaco and Rock/Creek offered customers a 20% discount on a new pair of Chaco Sandals in exchange for their donated shoes. "I would not hesitate to say there are even more pairs of shoes than the 500," said Rock/Creek buyer, Chad Wykle. "I saw customers donate several additional pairs beyond the one pair required to receive the 20% Chaco discount. The Chattanooga community and RockCreek.com shoppers really took to this idea."

Footwear donated in recent years has gone to support the elimination of hookworm anemia, a condition which is estimated to affect 1 in 3 people in Sub-Saharan Africa. The hookworm, a soil-born parasite, enters through bare feet and resides in the small intestine of its host. Left untreated, the parasite can cause severe anemia and malnutrition, which slowly advances until a blood transfusion, a risky and often cost-prohibitive procedure in developing nations, becomes necessary for the infected individual's survival. Prevention, through the use of protective footwear, has been proven to prevent hookworm anemia. Through one of the previous Chaco Recycle Programs, an entire village in Uganda was outfitted with shoes--a simple solution that completely eliminated hookworm anemia in the village.

This year donated shoes will be distributed by internationally-recognized non-profit, Soles4Souls. The organization came about from one man's vision to offer aid--in the form of footwear--to those in need. After the tsunami hit Southeast Asia in 2004, founder Wayne Elsey felt the calling to help. He facilitated the collection of a quarter of a million pairs of donated shoes for tsunami victims. A year later, when Hurricane Katrina devastated our gulf shores, Elsey managed to collect more than 750,000 pairs of shoes from the footwear industry. To date, Soles4Souls has donated more than 3 million pairs of shoes throughout the United States, Central and South America, Europe and Asia.

Rock/Creek co-owner Marvin Webb said of the recycle program, "It's a good fit for Rock/Creek and Chaco, two companies who are both committed to sustainability. Not only are customers' old shoes diverted from landfills, but they also provide extra miles for people who need them. We're proud to take part in the initiative."

Brad McAllister, Sustainability Adviser for Rock/Creek, added, "Sustainability typically is defined as the long term balance between the environment, the economy and the needs of society. By offering customers the ability to recycle old footwear through donations to developing countries, and purchase a new pair of Chacos at a discounted price, the program touches on all three corners of sustainability. This is certainly a model program for all companies considering sustainability initiatives."

About Rock/Creek:
Rock/Creek was awarded 2009 Online Retailer of the Year by Backpacker Magazine and SNEWS and has ranked among Outdoor Business's top 25 retailers in 2008 and 2009. Along with its online shops, RockCreek.com and ClimbingGear.com, Rock/Creek sells high quality outdoor clothing and gear for a host of activities including kayaking, rock climbing, camping, hiking, trail running, travel, and everyday living. Rock/Creek is committed to fostering positive change. For this reason, it uses outdoor retail as a platform to encourage outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship and to improve public access to the backcountry. Rock/Creek supports worthy nonprofits such as the Southeastern Climbers' Coalition and the Wilderness Trail Running Association.

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Brooke Scott
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