On behalf of the Difference Makers of Hawaii, we are ecstatic to be able to share the inspiring story Christine Simpson began to live out almost two years ago.
Mililani native and founder of Shoes for the Homeless Oahu, Christine Simpson combines her passion for running and her care for people by providing thousands of individuals, in need and on Oahu, with shoes to wear.
In addition to managing Shoes for the Homeless Oahu, Christine is a Skills Trainer by day, graduate student by
night, and a single mom of three all year around. She enjoys hiking, swimming, endurance sports, reading, and opportunities to learn something new.
Shoes for the Homeless Oahu is a community based outreach that collects used, but functioning shoes and distributes them to those in need in places like Next Step Shelter.
and Institute for Human Services. Christine shared that her vision for this ministry did not happen overnight.
“I just knew that I had old race shoes stuffed in my closet and I wanted them to be used. I knew that the running
community was made up of many people with AMAZING hearts. I also knew they must have had shoes they couldn’t race in, but where still useful for a different purpose. I just wanted to help.”
Christine has always been a person who had the desire to help people. She told us a story about when she was in high school, she was on her way to deposit her first pay check, when she saw a group of kids fundraising for the Special Olympics. Christine took half her paycheck and gave it to them. Christine continued to share that as she picked up her interest for endurance sports back in 2013, she also began attending a church in Wahiawa, which is a town with a high homeless population.
“One day while running the Pineapple Race in Wahiawa, I ran over a needle on the side walk. Less than a mile from there I could see homeless families walking. I couldn’t sleep that night because I couldn’t get those images out of my head. I just kept picturing someone stepping on a needle.”
With the support of my friends, college, and the race director of the Tropical Triple Crown series, within two weeks, I officially had Shoes for the Homeless Oahu. She shared how the race director jumped on board and let her hold a shoe drive at the next race. The Dean of Wayland University offered space in the school to be a shoe drop off and collection site, and a friend of mine helped me with the sorting and storing the shoes. In less than a month, 150 pairs of shoes were collected and distributed island wide.
It didn’t take long before the word about this cause spread. Racers began to ask about it, and friends saw it on social media and wanted to get involved. A Facebook page was created, and before Christine knew it, people from all over the island were going into Wayland Baptist University to donate shoes. By the end of the first year, over 2,000 pairs of shoes were collected and distributed.
Christine has coordinated over 8 drives, and continues to partner with ministries and other organizations to collect items to distribute.
When Christine was asked what inspires her to give back, she described how she saw others in the community giving back in unconventional, yet practical ways, and it proved to her that what she had the desire to do, was possible. She shared that some of the challenges she faces while running this outreach is keeping up with social media, however the joys she experiences are countless.
“I could rattle off dozens of stories that left me in happy tears. From a little boy that drove off on his bike with shoes for him and his little sister elated that he had found her sparkly pink shoes, to a group of women I stopped randomly on the street one day and handed shoes to because they were barefoot.”
When asked what her dream is, if money and all other factors weren’t of concern, she shared truly believing that if everyone knew how much of a difference he or she could make, not only would they be empowered individually, but they would change lives.
“That’s the dream- for everyone to see a need and help where they can help. Even if people just bought a $5 McDonalds gift card, kept it in their wallet, and gave it to the next homeless person they saw. Or make care bags to leave in their cars, or even just bottles of water. The options for helping are endless and can be so easy.”
Christine’s Favorite Quote
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. –Athur Ashe