SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.  The Little Gym, the experiential learning and child physical development center for ages 4 months through 12 years, is launching a new initiative to collect used or outgrown shoes. The program, called “Big Hearts, Little Shoes,” benefits Soles4Souls, the international charity that collects shoes and distributes them to people in need around the globe.

“Big Hearts, Little Shoes” at The Little Gym is the first dedicated campaign for Soles4Souls focused on collecting children’s shoes. The program provides an interactive way for children to learn the value of charity and for parents and children to participate in a cause together.

At The Little Gym, each class begins with children removing their shoes beforeentering the gym floor. Beginning this fall with the 2012-2013 Season of classes, children and parents can donate shoes they have outgrown or no longer need in special Soles4Souls drop boxes located in the lobbies of The Little Gym locations. The shoes will be shipped to Soles4Souls, which is committed to collecting and distributing shoes to people living in extreme poverty and recovering from natural disasters.

The Little Gym and Soles4Souls are challenging families to donate one million adult and children’s shoes. For those children who grow up barefoot, every step counts in building self-confidence, even receiving a donation of a single pair of shoes.

“Helping parents celebrate their children’s milestones is one of the most heartwarming parts of our day,” said Bob Bingham, President and CEO of The Little Gym International. “Whether it’s sharing their first steps, or their first somersault or cartwheel, families experience special moments together as part of their children’s development at The Little Gym. The ‘Big Hearts, Little Shoes’ program provides a unique opportunity for children to make a positive impact. It’s also a natural fit with the ‘Citizen Kid’ component of our core curriculum that focuses on life skills that help children grow into well-rounded citizens of the world.”

One hundred percent of all shoes donated to Soles4Souls are sustainable: More than 99% are used to help those in need, and the remaining that cannot be used are directed to a waste-to-energy facility where they are used to produce environmentally clean and renewable energy.

“Soles4Souls’ mission of helping people has always attracted little helping hands in the past, but The Little Gym is taking it to the next level,” said Kevin Goughary, CEO of Soles4Souls. “With the ‘Big Hearts Little Shoes’ program, we hope to rally a new group of ‘mini’ donors that will have a ‘mega’ impact on the world. It really is about kids helping kids and we’re thrilled to be a part.”

ABOVE: The Little Gym CEO Bob Bingham and Soles4Souls Chief Development Officer Keith Woodley join together to donate the first shoes for the “Big Hearts Little Shoes” campaign, Wednesday, July 25, in New York. Children and parents can donate shoes they have outgrown or no longer need in special Soles4Souls drop boxes located in the lobbies of The Little Gym locations.

 

Parents can visit www.TheLittleGym.com/BigHeartsLittleShoes to find the nearest “Big Hearts, Little Shoes” donation location. The website also will feature an animated video narrated by child actor Jonathan MorganHeit (“Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” “Bedtime Stories”) that explains the campaign in a way children can understand. Parents can connect through social media on The Little Gym’s Facebook page and by following The Little Gym on Twitter (@TheLittleGym).

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