Watson Chronicle

WATSON COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Student Opportunities and Student News

Sole Sisters Founded by WSL Michaela Moran Helps Children Around the World

Sunday, May 03, 2015

As the spring semester drew to a close, like most college students Watson Student Leader Michaela Moran was focused on final exams and the completion of course assignments. However, she was also busy raising awareness of the work of her non-profit Sole Sisters, raising funds for the Corazon de Vida Foundation and planning a June trip to an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico.

Moran is a junior at UNCW majoring in Physical Education with a K-12 teaching licensure. She founded Sole Sisters in 2013 with her sister Ariana, now a freshman at Dartmouth College. Both young women are cross country runners and cheerleaders, and their original concept was to find good use for a pile of sneakers no longer suitable for athletic competitions.

Michaela said they researched organizations in need of sneakers and found them all over the world.

After filing paperwork to establish a non-profit and obtaining a Tax ID Number, they got to work soliciting gently-used sneakers for donation.

Starting small and locally, Michaela and Ariana reached out to family, friends and fellow athletes in their hometown of Atkinson, New Hampshire. Drop-off locations were set up at a school, a church and at their parents' work locations.

Sole2With assistance from their local Catholic church and the Missionary Sisters of Mary, the Morans selected an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya as the first charity to help. They sent the first shipment of 100 pairs of sneakers in August 2013. Soon after, the sisters received personal notes and photographs thanking them for their generosity. "The feeling we had was incredible," Michaela said. "The notes and pictures made it all real."

Over the past two years Sole Sisters has shipped thousands of pairs of sneakers to shelters in the U.S. and to orphanages in impoverished locations in Central America, India and around the globe.

As the organization has grown, the biggest challenge they've faced is raising funds for shipping, Michaela said.

Sole Sisters received support from the UNCW Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) in 2014 while Michaela was a member of UNCW's cross country team, and they recently received a $500 Keds Career Grant, but the bulk of the organization's expenses have been paid for by the Moran family out-of-pocket.

Michaela, who credits her parents with fostering a love of volunteering at an early age, said the vision for Sole Sisters now extends beyond sneakers. "Our main goal is community service," she said. "We want to help as many people as we can."

Michaela and Ariana are currently working to raise funds for the Corazon de Vida Foundation, an organization that provides life-changing support for orphaned and abandoned children in Baja, Mexico.

In June they will visit a Mexican orphanage as volunteers with Corazon de Vida. After collecting dozens of new sneakers to bring to the children, they created a fundraising page to aid in broader efforts of the foundation https://www.classy.org/fundraise/team?ftid=49189. As of the end of April they were halfway toward their goal of raising $500 for the foundation.

The sisters are excited about the opportunity. "Working with the kids and being there with them will be great," Michaela said. "It takes our work to a whole other level."

Michaela has maintained a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average at UNCW, while assuming a course load that will enable her to graduate in December 2015, one semester early.

She holds leadership roles in two colleges at UNCW, serving as a Watson Student Leader and a member of the Dean's Student Leadership Council in the College of Health and Human Services. She's also a member of Phi Kappa Phi, serves as Treasurer of UNCW's Physical Education Majors Club, Secretary of the university's Stand-Up Paddleboard Club, and works as a fitness instructor.

Asked how she manages a non-profit with everything else on her plate, Michaela laughed. "Sometimes we do need more hours in the day," she said. "But Sole Sisters is really important to Ariana and me. It started with sneakers, but it's really about finding ways to help people in need. We realize how lucky we are and we just want to give back."

Watson College professor Janna Robertson recently shared information about Sole Sisters and Michaela Moran's fundraising efforts with faculty and staff of the Watson College.

"I like supporting our students' causes," Robertson said. "If you know people who would be interested in helping Michaela, please share!"

For more information on Sole Sisters, please visit: