SAN ANTONIO, Texas - After the earthquake in Haiti, the devastation was broadcast and is still is being broadcast to the rest of the world. But one interesting element not covered often enough is how such broadcasts have impacted individuals like Gylon Jackson. He was inspired.
Relying on his skills as a Web site designer, Jackson launched ShoesForHaitiNow.com. His mission was to collect, deliver, and distribute 100,000 pairs of new or gently used shoes to the children, women and men of Haiti.
Three days after launching the site, Shoes For Haiti Now added a Facebook account and a Twitter account. The program has also partnered with BlogCatalog.com, which is the largest social network for bloggers on the Web, and BloggersUnite.com, which was the first program to ever develop a social outreach campaign driven by bloggers.
“Quite simply, I believe that one person, with the help of a crowd, can make a real difference in peoples lives,” said Jackson. “I also figured not everyone in America can donate money to a cause, but they can donate gently worn shoes.”
Companies and individuals across the nation are donating funds, but the Jackson's concept to send shoes stands out because it is simple, sustainable, and provides an long-term tangible good. Moreover, the distribution and allocation of the shoes are guaranteed to directly aid Haitians.
With no budget for traditional marketing, advertising, or public relations, Jackson also saw social media are a natural means to reach a specific end. One advantage, he says, is that the production (with the exception of the time invested) was free. Second, he added, his effort had the ability to reach both local and international audiences.
“I have been contacted by people in New York, Mississippi, San Antonio, Saint Louis, California, Houston ... I think you get the idea,” said Jackson. “With traditional media like radio and television, I could not reach or affect a crowd. Today, I am affecting and influencing people across America for a good cause.”
With growing awareness and community support, Shoes For Haiti Now has a strong start to accomplishing its goal. The deadline, set by Jackson, is Feb. 28, 2010. Donations can be sent to Shoes For Haiti Now, 7126 Eckhert Road, Suite 208 and 209, San Antonio, TX 78238.
“The best thing that has come out of Shoes for Haiti Now is that I have been able to bring awareness to such a large group of people,” said Jackson. “I may NEVER know how many people I have touched, only that I have touched them deeply.”
A simple idea like Gylon Jackson’s Shoes For Haiti Now, illustrates that a single person has the potential to positively impact their community from a local to an international level. Coming together during a time of crisis, such as Haiti, with gifts of shoes, money, love and support demonstrates the power to make a difference.