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Students learn business ethics while providing shoes to the needy

by Chuck Gordon

While they’re enjoying their winter break, students in Wingate’s Business 105: Business, Society and Sustainability course can feel satisfied that they’ve displayed the Christmas spirit all semester.

In the course, which replaced the traditional Business 101: Intro to Business nearly five years ago, students learn how the free market and corporations can serve society in a virtuous and ethical manner. One of the class’s primary goals, according to the course prospectus created in 2016, is “to encourage a lifelong disposition to promote the common good and to foster human dignity as business leaders in service to others.”

Student standing by Soles4Souls collection

To reinforce that concept, during the semester students collected shoes to be donated to Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization based in Alabama. The stats show that, this year, Wingate students outdid themselves:

  • A course record 3,078 pairs of shoes collected, to be distributed to those in need.
  • Collected shoes’ value was estimated at $21,546.
  • 64 student participants, an all-time high.

The collective statistics since the course was first offered in 2017 are also impressive:

  • 14,105 people have received free shoes.
  • 16,998 pounds of shoes have been kept out of landfills.
  • The shoes collected and distributed have been valued at $99,155.

All of this, even though the course was not taught in 2020, because of Covid.

According to Dr. Sergio Castello, dean of the Porter B. Byrum School of Business, students in the class learn to “appreciate business as a service to society and not a way to enrich themselves.”

“The service-learning project serves to increase their awareness of the most vulnerable while gaining empathy toward the poor and others in need,” he says.

The shoes collected this year have been delivered to Soles4Souls’ warehouse in Wadley, Alabama, where they will be distributed to those in need around the world. “I would not be surprised if shoes were being shipped to Kentucky as we speak,” Castello says, referencing the recent tornadoes that have leveled parts of the state.

Learn more about Wingate’s Byrum School of Business.

Dec. 23, 2021