Enjoy National Go Barefoot Day

June 1 is National Go Barefoot Day, the day when the charity Soles4Souls encourages all Americans to ditch shoes and socks and donate new or gently worn shoes for distribution to those in desperate need around the world. Take a look at the history of Soles4Souls, and use these suggestions to help you enjoy your barefoot experience.


Wayne Elsey, founder and CEO of Soles4Souls, has been in the footwear industry since he started working as a retailer's stockroom assistant at the age of 15. So when he saw the devastation caused by the Indonesian tsunami in 2004 and decided he wanted to do something concrete to help those affected by it, making calls to colleagues in the industry seemed like a natural thing to do. Those calls resulted in the donation of a quarter million pairs of shoes.

A similar reaction to hurricane Katrina the following year resulted in nearly 1 million pairs of shoes, which were handed out up and down the Gulf Coast. Encouraged by colleagues in the footwear industry, Elsey founded the charity in 2006 and was appointed CEO. Since then, Soles4Souls has distributed more than 15 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries, with more than half going to people in the United States.

National Go Barefoot Day

In 2008 the charity initiated National Barefoot Day, which falls on June 1 every year. The charity and volunteers organize activities to encourage shoe donations and distribute shoes in areas of need. Previous years have seen celebrity shoe auctions held by NBC Universal 30 Rock studios in aid of Japan's tsunami victims. Actress Scarlett Johansson donated 2,000 pairs of shoes from her Reebok line of footwear.

Enjoy the day

  • Plan a day to visit the coast or a park and reconnect with nature by walking barefoot in the grass or along the beach.
  • Clear out your closet, and donate old unwanted shoes to Soles4Souls.
  • Organize a shoe drive or participate in one.
  • Create a personal fundraising page to raise funds for Soles4Souls.
  • Take a picture of your bare feet and post it as your profile picture on social networks with a link to the charity.
  • Tweet about Soles4Souls and post links to organization in your status updates. The charity suggests something like, "My feet are bare for Soles4Souls on Go Barefoot Day. Learn more on GiveShoes.org" or "Shocking Soles4Souls Go Barefoot Day fact: Almost 1.5 billion people in the world don't have shoes."
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