Whether it’s working with Health Through Walls, an HIV support initiative operating in prisons, providing support to a Haitian orphanage or giving shoes to the homeless right here in Atlanta, Sylvia Webb’s mission is the same — to give back to those less fortunate.So the founder of the nonprofit 40 Girls and Some Shoes and the 2012 recipient of the CSA Humanitarian Award along with some well-heeled supporters turned the tables a bit in lavish turn of events. The event: the Fifth Annual Charity from the Sole Fundraiser at the Bill Lowe Art gallery in Atlanta, where supporters, including: Riverdale’s illustrious mayor Dr. Evelyn Dixon, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Willie Watkins, and Nicholas House Family Shelter case director Yvette Mason, helped collect more than 300 pairs of shoes for those in need.

As the artful activist explained to rolling out in an interview, neither she or the friends who helped found the organization deviate from their cause — it’s all about giving back in any capacity possible. They march on with the surefootedness of women with a calling, they just do it with style and panache. To date, 40 Girls and Some Shoes supporters have donated more than 15,000 pairs of shoes to people in need. –roz edward

 Why shoes …

Anyone who is experiencing adversity in many cases doesn’t have access to an automobile. For those who are homeless their means of transportation is usually walking or riding the bus, so shoes are essential whether it’s to get to shelter or to look for work, or to get food from food banks or clothes from clothes closets

 Who she serves and how she serves them …

My organization is more about the community giving back to the community, it’s like recycling back to ourselves. My focus is primarily women and children, but we assist everyone we can. There are no strings attached it’s just free shoes. We literally take it to the streets and takes shoes to shelters. I just gave shoes to the Must Ministries and on March 15 I am partnering with them, along with Bloomingdales and Well Star, for a professional image projects for 110 people who are in need.

How 40 Girls and Some Shoes came about …

I began this in Houston, Texas with four other friends as a celebration of life. We were celebrating turning 40, our long-term friendships, our triumphs and our love of shoes. … It’s like reparations and a play on ’40 acres and a mule.’ … later I learned that my cousin had passed away from a heart attack. I discovered that unbeknownst to me and the rest of the family, she had been abused and abandoned by her husband and was living in a shelter. When the shelter gave her sons her belongings, she only had a few items of clothing — and a couple of pairs of shoes.

How are the recipients impacted …

It’s a huge burden lifted off of their shoulders, especially for indigent women trying to put decent shoes on their kids feet so that when they go to school they aren’t teased and bullied. … People ask me what if they do something else with the shoes like trade them or sell them.  I tell them I am okay with that. I don’t know their struggle and I don’t live it so if a mother can make better use of the shoes by selling them for food and rent money, I am okay with that. I have done my part.

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40 Girls and Some Shoes founder, Sylvia Webb (center) and “shoe” advocates

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The "shoes" of 40 Girls and Some Shoes

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Riverdale Mayor, Dr. Evelyn Dixon and 40 Girls and Some Shoes Founder, Sylvia Webb

Soulful Songstress Jennifer Freeman

Soulful Songstress Jennifer Freeman

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Spoken word artist and jewelry designer, Tira "Free" Heard

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Yvette Mason, Nicholas House family Shelter case director

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Sylvia Webb, 40 Girls and Some Shoes founder

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Riverdale Mayor, Dr. Evelyn Dixon

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Riverdale Mayor, Dr. Evelyn Dixon and 40 Girls and Some Shoes founder, Sylvia Webb

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Donor amd Supporter, Mr. Willie A. Watkins

Donor amd Supporter, Mr. Willie A. Watkins