Therapy Dog Fundraising: A Girl’s Story

posted on September 4, 2019

We love sharing our partner stories with you. And, today we have the chance to share one about Emily. Emily seeks to make an impact on the world because she cares about her community. She’s also someone who understands that, yes, one person can make a difference. With the support of her family, Emily decided to raise money to get a puppy. The family sought creative ways to help Emily raise money so she could get the puppy and proceed with its training as a therapy dog. Emily aims to help others in the community with her puppy by visiting nursing homes, libraries, and schools.

So last year, the family starting researching for creative fundraising ideas. And, that’s how they fell upon shoe drive fundraisers. In fact, Emily loved this kid-friendly fundraiser so much that she asked her mom if she could do a third one next year (they’ve done two so far).

Why This Fundraiser for a Therapy Dog?

As with most people, Emily’s family liked the idea of asking people for shoes instead of asking for money or buy merchandise for the therapy dog fundraiser. Stacy, Emily’s mom, said, “We thought we could really get behind asking people to donate shoes versus asking them to buy something they probably don’t need! So last year we gave it a try. It went well, and we were pleased with the process and the funds it provided for our daughter’s dream.”

Overcoming the Fear of Fundraising

After the first shoe drive fundraiser, when Emily asked her mom about doing another one, her mom said no. Stacy explained, “Don’t get me wrong! It was fun and profitable, but when you are one family working to collect 100 bags of shoes, it can seem a little overwhelming.” Still, shoe drive fundraising can be easy and fun—if you develop a plan. And, that’s why they’ve done two so far. Emily wants to do a third one next year for her therapy dog!

In the second fundraiser, the family realized that they could use and reuse their flyers to promote the shoe drive fundraiser in the neighborhood. And, they also reached out again to places to serve as drop-off locations for the shoes to make it easy for people to give their unwanted shoes. “We were able to invest some time in finding several businesses that would take our bag challenge and identified some other avenues to collect shoes as well. There is no doubt it takes some time to follow up with people, collect donations, and prep bags. But the return for your time and effort is well worth it!”

Diving In to Raise Funds for a Therapy Dog

During the two shoe drive fundraisers done by the family, Emily and Stacy led efforts to promote their fundraiser. As anyone who has done fundraising knows, it’s essential to make people aware of any fundraiser. In this fundraiser for the therapy dog, Emily and Stacy promoted it through Facebook and also word of mouth. On Facebook, they created a page where people could learn about the shoe drive fundraiser and also follow the progress. And, they asked people to spread the word about their special fundraiser for the therapy dog.

Also, the family partnered with two local running stores, two gyms, and several doctor offices. Those businesses collected shoes during the family’s shoe drive fundraiser as drop-off locations. The family also got creative in promotions. For instance, they created a poster with information sharing Emily’s story and listing contact and drop-off information. And, they picked-up donations weekly or bi-weekly at each drop-off location.

One Bag Challenge & Earth Day Festival

Of course, anyone who is seeking to raise funds wants to be successful. And that was also the case for Emily and Stacy for the therapy dog. So, another important thing that they did for success is to ask friends and family to take the One Bag Challenge. Meaning, they asked people to fill just one bag with gently worn, used and new shoes for the fundraiser. In addition to providing the bags, they also asked people to share the fundraiser with others. So, they gave them posters and flyers to pass around to people they knew.

One of the reasons so many people love shoe drive fundraisers is because they raise money for a good cause. In this case, it’s for Emily’s therapy dog. But, aside from raising money for a purpose, it keeps good shoes out of the trash. When shoes go in the garbage, they end up in landfills and hurt the environment. So, Emily and Stacy decided to get a vendor spot at their local Eary Day Festival. Then they promoted the shoe drive fundraiser and asked people to help the environment by donating their shoes to this socially responsible fundraiser.

The Impact of Shoes

During the shoe drive fundraisers for the therapy dog, one of the most touching things that happen is people giving the shoes of family members who have passed. As Stacy explained, “The most touching donations were the ones from people who had recently lost loved ones. They read about the shoe drive fundraiser and were able to donate their loved one’s shoes to our cause.   It was meaningful for them to know their loss had helped someone else, and we were honored to receive their donations.”

Finally, Stacy told us, “It is truly a win-win-win-win situation for us.” By this, she meant that people donated their shoes for Emily’s cause to get a therapy dog. But, by giving shoes, they repurposed good shoes instead of hurting the environment. And, micro-entrepreneurs in developing nations get the shoes and sell them in their communities for a profit. Meaning, that shoes given in a shoe drive fundraiser make an incredible impact in the world and to people helping themselves out of poverty.


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