While the holiday season is often synonymous with shopping and consumption, it also represents a time of giving and gratitude. It’s a time when retail industry players and ordinary people are encouraged to support charitable endeavors that benefit those who need them most.
One non-profit organization, Samaritan’s Feet International, has dedicated itself to donating and distributing shoes to children in need around the globe. To date, Samaritan’s Feet has distributed more than 6.5 million pairs of shoes to needy children in more than 75 countries. The eventual goal is to donate shoes to 10 million children worldwide.
The organization has received shoes from retailers and brands such as Nike, Skechers, Kmart and Walmart. In fact, the donations have grown to a point where the company needed to more accurately monitor shoes coming in and going out. Samaritan’s Feet partnered with JDA Software to gain supply chain visibility over the donated shoes and effectively track their movement and delivery worldwide.
“Imagine a non-profit with a small staff, a large volunteer base and a minimal number of warehouses all of a sudden being buried in more than a million pairs of shoes as part of the first major gift,” said Emmanuel “Manny” Ohonme, Founder and President of Samaritan’s Feet International. “That was strictly a supply chain issue. That’s where the value of the JDA partnership came into the picture. How do we configure our network, how do we ensure that we can know exactly what we’re shipping to these warehouses, and how do we set up makeshift warehouses in places like Uganda, Sudan and Nigeria? That’s the power and the value I’ve seen in working with JDA.”
The organization leverages numerous JDA platforms, including inventory management, RFID asset tracking and warehouse management solutions, to ensure it can efficiently deliver shoes, monitor stock in warehouses, limit stock-outs and optimize delivery costs.
“When one of our partners donates a pair of shoes, we want to be able to tell that donor where that pair of shoes ended up, show them the picture of the child that just received the shoes and thank them for saving that child’s life,” Ohonme said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “If you know where things are in the supply chain, you can create these human connections.”
In partnering with Samaritan’s Feet, JDA looks to raise funds and awareness to deliver 30,000 pairs of shoes over the next three years to impact children in need. JDA has its own Social Responsibility program that partners with charitable organizations, and as such the company encourages employees to support and raise funds for numerous causes.
“We often talk at JDA about giving our employees a greater purpose and a greater vision for how the company helps the world,” said Kevin Iaquinto, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at JDA Software. “The partnership gives our associates a tangible insight into an opportunity to do good using our software, and it’s something they can personally get involved in by organizing shoe drives or donating themselves personally. Some of the retail partners of Samaritan’s Feet are our partners as well, so part of what we’re trying to do is not only galvanize our associates, but also extend Samaritan’s footprint to retailers that maybe Manny hasn’t spoken to yet.”
A Personal Journey
The journey to getting the non-profit off the ground was a personal one for Ohonme. He was born in Nigeria and didn’t get his first pair of shoes until the age of nine, when an American missionary encouraged him to enter a contest, which he won. On a trip back to Nigeria, he realized that while having a pair of shoes is an expectation for most Americans, it was still only a dream to many children in Africa and other areas around the globe.
“I knew what it was like to walk miles with no shoes and step on corroded bottles and metals,” Ohonme said. “Without proper antibiotics, you can have lacerations and parasites that could be a death sentence for somebody in my community, because we don’t have Rite Aid or CVS or Walgreens.”
For the future, Ohonme doesn’t rule out the possibility of using more JDA technologies, as Samaritan’s Feet continues to expand both its reach and company goals, particularly in the area of human resources.
“We have more than 200,000 volunteers,” Ohonme said. “When you think about it, those are staff members to us, so we essentially have to figure out how to improve efficiencies there. Those are alternatives that we’re excited about, that we look to take us to a whole different level to helping reach what we call our ‘customer experience.’ We’re trying to create a unique experience for the people that allow us to do this — our donors, sponsors and partners —to tell the story of how their generosity is changing lives.”