by LINDA FRABL | photo by Lauren Nygard Photography

Shoes for Souls

Born and raised in Colombia, Clara Marsden came to the United States to attend college and has been living in Carlsbad for 17 years now. Grateful for her husband, her three grown children, and her beautiful surroundings, Clara exclaimed, “We enjoy Carlsbad’s small-town Southern California benefits such as minimal driving as everything is close, perfect weather, beautiful views, seeing the ocean every day, and the friendships.”

volunteer02Fully aware that her current blessed life differs considerably from the impoverishment she encountered growing up in her hometown of Medellin, Colombia, Clara decided to do something about it during a family trip to her native country. That’s when the Shoes for Souls organization was conceived. Clara recalled, “Shoes for Souls started when our family traveled to South America to visit my family for Christmas, and we wanted to do something for the people who live in extreme poverty there.” That initial Shoes for Souls campaign successfully disbursed 3,600 pairs of shoes to impoverished children in the coastal town of Berrugas, in the city of Medellin, and in the surrounding islands of Colombia.

A donation of only $5 can buy a pair of shoes for a Colombian child, and 100% of the donation goes towards the shoes. In addition, the disbursed shoes are all manufactured in Colombia, thus helping that country’s economy and employment. Shoes for Souls also works with the Emiliani Project, a Medellin-based nonprofit organization that houses and educates orphaned and abandoned children. As an added bonus, Clara proclaimed, “We are very proud that all of our shoe distributions have been done face-to-face with each child. It is such a big accomplishment to be able to convey to the children and their parents that this is a gift of love from the USA, and we feel it has been received as such. At Shoes for Souls, our motto is ‘saving lives one step at a time.’”

Because her husband is a pilot who travels all over the world for work, Clara frequently accompanies him. She admitted, “My favorite hobby is traveling, and we have met fascinating people from all over. We are also scuba divers and many of our dives are done in remote and very impoverished areas.” Always considerate of helping those less fortunate, Clara added, “Maybe in some of our future travels we can also do some Shoes for Souls campaigns in those local areas!”


Name: Clara Marsden
Community: Carlsbad
Volunteer Affiliation: Shoes for Souls/Emiliani Project
Profession: Teacher’s Assistant at St. Patrick’s School for 7th and 8th grade Pre-Algebra and Algebra
Family: Husband – Michael; Children – Nicholas (25), Matthew (23), Marianna (17)
Hobbies: Travel, scuba diving


Group: Shoes for Souls
Mission: To provide shoes for impoverished children
Email: Clara at shoes4soulsorg@gmail.com
Website: www.shoes4souls.blogspot.com | www.emilianiproject.org