Krista Brantly loves shoes. Not because she wants to make a statement of fashion, but because she has a heart of compassion.
Krista, a Lilly colleague with our human resources team in Indianapolis, traveled to Tanzania last year as part of our Connecting Hearts Abroad employee volunteer program. She worked with children at a school--many who arrived each day with shoes too big, too small, or with laces frayed and torn. Some kids she saw had no shoes at all.
Like so many of our Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors, Krista was deeply affected by her experience. As she shared in an internal blog for our Lilly family:
"I can't stop thinking about shoes. I thought of the little boy at school with his toes sticking out of the end of his tennis shoes. Then I thought of all the shoes in my closet. The chasm between these two worlds is mind boggling ... I want to live with an awareness of that other world, and I want to understand what it can teach me to do differently."
Here's where her love for shoes--and the people of Tanzania--comes in.
In August, Krista wrapped up her second shoe drive. Since returning from Kilimanjaro in the spring of 2011, she's enlisted the help of Lilly colleagues and friends from her community and church to collect new or gently used shoes for children and adults in Tanzania.
Krista collects the shoes and Soles4Soulsships and distributes them. So far, she's collected nearly 900 pairs of shoes for people in Tanzania--with about 600 of those pairs coming from Lilly coworkers.
That's what Connecting Hearts Abroad is all about. Each year, Lilly sends about 200 employees from our operations around the world to volunteer in underserved communities in nearly a dozen countries. We work with our partner, Cross-Cultural Solutions to make it happen.
Our Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors return with deeper empathy, understanding, and insights. Ultimately, our hope is that these experiences will translate into better solutions that we, as a company, can deliver to people across the globe.
And that starts with walking in someone else's shoes.