Save the Earth Projects (S.T.E.P.) teams up with Soles4Souls to Leave a GOOD Footprint and fight global poverty

Leave a GOOD Footprint
Leave a GOOD Footprint is the cornerstone project of Save the Earth Projects


Denise Russo, Save the Earth Projects 404-849-5093 info@savetheearthprojects.com

Deltona, FL (2/14/20) – One person’s unwanted shoes can help provide meaningful opportunities that many in developing nations need, which is why founder of Save the Earth Projects, Olivia Russo-Hood started Leave a GOOD Footprint gently-used shoe drives at the age of 10. Olivia (now a senior) has collected more than 50,000 pair of shoes and has set her sights on making an even bigger impact. To meet the vision, she sought out a new best-fit partner with Soles4Souls. Together they are excited to make a BIG difference, one S.T.E.P. at a time!

We need YOUR help. Your gently-used shoes will now be delivered to Soles4Souls (a non-profit social enterprise that creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world). Founded in 2006, the organization has distributed more than 30 million pairs of new and gently-worn shoes in 127 countries.

The World Bank estimates 767 million people live on less than $1.90 per day. Many people living in extreme poverty simply do not have access to stable employment.

Soles4Souls’ micro-enterprise programs are aligned with the mission and vision of S.T.E.P., offering a long-term solution to poverty through job creation in places like Haiti, Honduras and Guatemala. They also give a second life to unwanted shoes, keeping them out of landfills and protecting the environment.

“My organization and I are strong supporters of Soles4Souls’ mission,” said Russo-Hood, founder of Save the Earth Projects and Leave a GOOD Footprint. “To know that we can create meaningful impact around the globe by simply collecting and donating what is otherwise destined for the trash is a really great feeling.”

Shoes are sold for an average of $1 per pair to non-profit partners in developing countries that provide business training to local entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs purchase the shoes and are then able to start businesses of their own selling the product in their local marketplaces. This allows entrepreneurs the opportunity to earn a sustainable income, and ultimately purchase necessities like food, shelter and education.

Income generated by selling just one pair of shoes in Haiti can provide up to five meals for a family in need, and 30 pairs sold by an entrepreneur in Honduras can provide up to a year of schooling for a child. Revenue generated by Soles4Souls’ micro-enterprise operations funds the organization’s free distribution programs, that provide new shoes to people in need both in the U.S. and around the world.

“Millions of pairs of shoes lay unworn in people’s closets and garages,” said Russo-Hood.  “Help us Leave a GOOD Footprint by giving your shoes to to Soles4Souls instead, putting reuse in front of recycle, and also taking a S.T.E.P. to help disrupt the cycle of poverty around the globe.”

Join us for our Spring Leave a GOOD Footprint shoe drive:

  • Between now and April 1, collect your gently used shoes
  • If you live in central Florida, drop your shoes at the Four Townes YMCA or Advent Fish Memorial Hospital.
  • If you live in the Atlanta area, drop off at Reflections of Trinity in Powder Springs.
  • If you live outside of these areas, Soles4Souls, in partnership with Zappos, is providing Save the Earth Projects with free shipping labels for your shoes. Simply place them paired in a box, and email us at info@savetheearthprojects.com with your name, phone, email, and mailing address for a label.

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About Save the Earth Projects (S.T.E.P.)

Save the Earth Projects (S.T.E.P.) is a youth social entrepreneurship organization focused on social change. Started by youth leader, Olivia Russo-Hood, S.T.E.P. aims to recognize social problems and then organizes, creates, and manages social ventures to make change. Corporate businesses typically focus on profit and return, whereas social enterprises also measure the returns to society. Olivia partners with individuals and companies across the world in efforts to raise awareness for global issues, while also helping to raise funds for local charities. Take a stand by taking a S.T.E.P. and visit http://www.facebook.com/savetheearthprojects for more information.


About Soles4Souls

Soles4Souls disrupts the cycle of poverty by creating sustainable jobs and providing relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the organization repurposes product to supply its micro-enterprise, disaster relief and direct assistance programs. Since 2006, it has distributed more than 35 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries and generated over $250 million in economic impact. A nonprofit social enterprise, Soles4Souls earns more than half of its income and commits 100% of donations to programs. Visit soles4souls.org for more information.

Leaving a GOOD Footprint at the Northland Fully Alive 5K!

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Get your running (or walking) shoes on for our first-ever Fully Alive 5K!

This is a family-friendly run/walk that starts and ends at Northland’s main building. There’s also a free Kids’ Fun Run beginning at 8:45 am. Bring the whole gang out to celebrate with our community.  It will be a fun time with great friends, food and fitness!

Race Schedule:
6:15-7:00 am: Race Day Registration and Packet Pick-Up
7:30 am: 5K Run/Walk (This is a timed event)
8:45 am: Free Kids’ Run (10 and under)
9:30 am: Awards Presentation

Packet Pick Up:
Pre race packet pick-up will be held at Fleet Feet at 303 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Springs on Thursday and Friday from 11:00 am to 6:00pm.
Race Day Registration and Packet Pick-Up from 6:15-7:00 am.

Entry Fee:
Registration before May 1:  $25
Registration race morning:  $30
Kids Fun Run (10 and under):  Free

Medals will be presented to the top Male and Female finishers and the TOP THREE in the following age groups: 11 and Under, 12 – 15, 16 – 19, 20 – 29, 30 -39,  40 – 49, 50 – 59, 60 – 69, and 70 and Over.

Paid participants will receive a Fully Alive 5K t-shirt & swag bag. (Those who register after May 3rd are not guaranteed a t-shirt)

All kids need to be registered on race morning and parents or guardians need to sign a waiver.

For safety reasons, in-line skates, skateboards, and bikes will not be allowed in the race.

Thanks to our sponsors Fleet Feet!

Northland will be partnering with S.T.E.P. (Save the Earth Projects) at the Fully Alive 5K with the Leave a GOOD Footprint (TM) gently used shoe program!

S.T.E.P. impacts both local and global communities through several different service projects, including collecting shoes that are sent to vulnerable communities in underdeveloped countries. You can definitely donate your old running shoes but any shoes are welcome!

(any size of paired gently-used shoes are welcome. Please no crocs, flip flops, fuzzy slippers, skates, winter boots. If you are unsure or have questions, you can email info@savetheearthprojects.com or comment in the post on S.T.E.P.’s FB)

You can learn more about the work S.T.E.P. does here: www.facebook.com/savetheearthprojects or www.savetheearthprojects.com

Check out the route map HERE!

‍Don’t know how to start training? Print our couch to 5k training plan HERE

Want to volunteer for the 5k? Sign up to serve HERE

Florida teen recognized for national award.

Click here for the interview of Olivia on CBS!

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Olivia Russo-Hood, is one of the youngest certified John Maxwell Team Speaker, Coach and Trainers in the world. She is also one of the youngest leaders in the world to serve on the President’s Advisory Council for youth programs where she provides leadership on planning, development, and implementation of youth programming for the John Maxwell Team. In March she was awarded the 2019 John Maxwell Team Culture Award for the culture value Nurturing Transformation. Each year this award is given to one deserving individual in this category who best represents the DNA of a John Maxwell Team member as described in the team’s 10 culture values.  These values are based upon the life and leadership philosophy of Dr. John C. Maxwell, the number 1 leadership expert in the world, a Horatio Algers Award member, and best-selling author.

Olivia was nominated by her peers from among over 4,000 mentorship members.  The winners in each category are then chosen after a lengthy review process. Olivia’s honor was announced at the opening ceremonies of the March 2019 International Maxwell Certification held in Orlando, Florida, in front of an audience of over 3,000.

Youth leadership is very important to John Maxwell. Olivia has been chosen as a junior faculty leader and conducts global youth initiative programs across central Florida every year as a way to give back to the community. She is among other leaders who have served over 659,000 young people, in 4000 sites, in over 100 countries.

Olivia gives back locally by providing youth programs to local organizations such as the Four Townes YMCA, where she actually started Save the Earth Projects when she was only 10 years ago. She is one of the youngest donors of the YMCA and an active member. Along with her partnership with the YMCA, Olivia has also recently partnered with Advent Health (Fish Memorial) for Leave a GOOD Footprint. This is an initiative of S.T.E.P to send gently used shoes around the world to those in need. Since inception, Olivia has distributed 50,000 pair of shoes. Olivia and her brother (Vincent) are in talks to consult on two community gardens in Volusia County through their project S.T.E.P. Up to the Plate, focused on reducing childhood obesity, combating local hunger, and teaching kids about healthy living and eating.

In Volusia County – people can drop off their gently used shoes at the Four Townes YMCA in Deltona, in Seminole county people can drop off shoes on Sat May 18 at Northland Church in Longwood, or if they would like to set up a shoe drive at their schools, churches, organizations, or businesses, they can contact Olivia at info@savetheearthprojects.com
The fb is www.facebook.com/savetheearthprojects, Instagram @step.ig or linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/olivia-russo-hood-001177b7

Olivia also recently was awarded the Power of Children’s Award from the world’s largest children’s museum where she is featured in an exhibit alongside Ruby Bridges, Ryan White, and Anne Frank (this is what you had her on for a few months ago)…She was also featured on the Volusia County Schools website for her volunteerism and community service engagements.

Florida teen receives repeat national recognition for community service


February 7, 2018, Florida USA

Once again, Olivia Russo-Hood is being honored with the Prudential Spirit of the Community Award as a Distinguished Finalist for the State of Florida. Based on her achievements, the heart that she puts into volunteering in her local, national, and global communities, and for her impacts founding Save the Earth Projects, she is also receiving special recognition from the President of The United States. This will be the 3rd President that has acknowledged her efforts since she created S.T.E.P. 5 years ago.

2017 was another consistently positive year for S.T.E.P. and Olivia. She has surpassed collecting 35,000 pair of shoes for her Leave a GOOD Footprint campaign, started plans for her subscription boxes so more people can participate in S.T.E.P. programs nationally, partnered with some of the most recognizable brands and corporations globally, and has been a great mentor and guide to her brother Vincent – who founded S.T.E.P. Up to the Plate – a program advocating for school and community gardens, with a focus on reducing childhood obesity and local hunger.

You can learn more about Save The Earth Projects at www.facebook.com/savetheearthprojects or www.savetheearthprojects.com

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service.

Created in 1995 by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the program honors middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national level.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) is the premiere volunteer awards program, encouraging citizens to live a life of service through presidential gratitude and recognition.

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One person can make a difference, and everyone should try. – JFK

Florida teen wins national award


May 1, 2017

Olivia Russo-Hood, founder of Save the Earth Projects, is featured on the front page of a central Florida newspaper today receiving a national honor from her mayor and city council for her servant leadership and giving heart.

May 1 front page of the Beacon

Russo-Hood, a freshman at University High School, created “Leave a GOOD Footprint” as one of her projects, and collected more than 22,000 pairs of shoes in less than four years. She partners with an organization that donates $.50 a pound to charities Olivia selects, and then redistributes the shoes to people in underdeveloped countries. Olivia started S.T.E.P. to repay the kindness shown to her family after being displaced by a major flood.


Her mission is simple and yet so important:

Living responsibly locally, raising awareness nationally, and giving globally. Together we can make a BIG difference one S.T.E.P. at a time.

Olivia was chosen as a distinguished finalist for The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program – the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service.

Created in 1995 by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the program honors middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national level and has recognized more than 120,000 young people who’ve made a difference – and inspired countless others to consider how they might contribute to their communities.

The Corporation for National and Community Service recognized Olivia for her commitment to strengthen our nation and communities through volunteer service throughout these years. She received a Certificate of Excellence from Prudential in 2014 for her work raising funds and awareness for sports programs at a central Florida YMCA.

President Obama has sent two letters to Olivia congratulating her on receiving these President’s Volunteer Service Awards, stating, “While government can open more opportunities for us to serve our communities, it is up to each of us to seize those opportunities.” Olivia has done just that.

Now once again, Prudential has recognized Olivia through their Spirit of Community Award and designated her one of the top student volunteers in Florida.

Olivia shares these awards with the hundreds of people around the USA and UK that have joined her and participated in either her projects, or created their own S.T.E.P. projects.

She states, “My mission is simple. If everyone does small things to make our world better, together they make a BIG difference. We can all do that. One S.T.E.P. at a time! My hope is that more kids and adults will S.T.E.P. up and just do something!”

For more information, follow Olivia at:

Save the Earth Projects, S.T.E.P., and S.T.E.P. Up to the Plate

olivia front page of beacon may 2017

Young Eco-Hero named 2nd Place in the World!

Action For Nature proudly announced their 2016 International Young Eco-Hero Awards, which recognizes young people 8 to 16 years old for their environmental achievements.
It is our hope that the accomplishments of Olivia and all of these outstanding young people will inspire many others to preserve and protect the Earth upon which all life depends.
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Olivia’s home was destroyed in a flood in 2009 and her family lost everything. During that terrible tragedy her family was offered much kindness and support. Olivia wanted to give back.

After relocating to Florida, Olivia was inspired to do something active to protect the environment, live more responsibly on a local level, raise awareness for issues on a national level, and give back globally. To meet all these goals, Olivia created her own non-profit called Save the Earth Projects (S.T.E.P). One of her projects through STEP is ‘Leave a GOOD Footprint,’ where she arranges for the collection of gently used shoes from around the USA and UK. An international group then purchases and re-distributes the shoes to children in underdeveloped countries. Hundreds of thousands of children walk without shoes, explains Olivia, and may die from parasites and diseases that enter cuts in their feet. Redistributing shoes simultaneously reduces waste in landfills, raises funds for local organizations and school programs, provides shoes to those in need, and helps build economies globally because people need shoes for work and school. After three years and an initial goal of 100 shoes, Olivia and STEP have collected and re-distributed over 22,000 pairs of shoes.

“While the award is a great honor, the greatest award I can receive is when others are willing to volunteer with me to change the world. Together we can make a BIG difference, one S.T.E.P. at a time!”, says Olivia


To learn more about community gardens, please visit our project S.T.E.P. Up to the Plate by clicking here.

To learn more about our other S.T.E.P. programs like “Leave a GOOD Footprint”, click here.



Young Activist Seeks to Make a Difference, Locally and Globally, One ‘Step’ at a Time

olivia_russo-hood-verticalWhen a massive flood displaced 8-year-old Olivia Russo-Hood and her family from their home outside Atlanta in 2009, she experienced first-hand nature’s devastation. But, immediately following that, she learned of an even more powerful force: the kindness of neighbors.

“We had to leave our house right away and we weren’t able to bring many things with us,” recalls Olivia, now 14 and a current member ofgenerationOn’s Youth Advisory Council. “Our neighbors came and helped my mom sort through what we could save.”

The experience was overwhelming for Olivia and her brother, Vincent, who was just 5 years old. “It hit me really hard and came at just the right time when I was starting to think about what I wanted to do as I grew up and how I could be a good adult.”

Olivia decided to give back — and she did so with a vengeance, forming a loosely knit group of volunteer efforts that she called Save the Earth Projects, or S.T.E.P., when she was 10. Over the years, projects have ranged from building vegetables gardens, to raising awareness of childhood obesity, to collecting and distributing some 22,000 pairs of gently used shoes to those in need around the world.


“If I hadn’t received help, I would still feel broken down inside,” she says. “We were lucky, but I couldn’t help noticing that hundreds of others were displaced and that not everyone was able to get the help that we did. I felt like I needed to give something back.”

The organization has three missions: living responsibly locally, raising awareness nationally, and giving globally. “Our earth is our home,” Olivia says. “It doesn’t matter where — people are in need all over the world. That’s why I chose the name. It means that together we can make a difference — one ‘step’ at a time.”

Olivia’s idea has become a family affair, with mom Denise — a professional event producer — handling administrative and social media tasks and brother Vincent creating an off-shoot of S.T.E.P. Meanwhile, Olivia maintains an active speaking regimen to encourage others to find their own ways of giving back to the community.

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“Adults could become paralyzed by the experience of losing everything, but Olivia saw the good of humanity and people coming to aid,” says Denise. “She smells the roses in life.” It’s been that way for a long time, her mom notes that even in third grade Olivia was helping birds survive and thrive in their natural habitats by clearing brush and land.

The intent of S.T.E.P. is for everyone to create their own projects and use the network to publicize them. But Olivia still dreams up projects, too. The shoe collection effort, for example, came about after she discovered that 300 million pairs of shoes wind up in American landfills each year — while, of course, millions of the world’s poor go shoeless, making them susceptible to parasites that can enter the bloodstream through cuts in their feet. Her shoe drives have helped benefit those in need worldwide and they have also raised money for local soccer clubs, science clubs and other nonprofit organizations like the YMCA.

“If you see someone on the side of the road, you have a choice,” says Olivia. “You can continue walking and pass them by or you can stop to help. People went out of their way to help us when we needed it and that felt really good. It also feels really good for me now to be able to do the same.”

If Olivia’s story inspires you, visit savetheearthprojects.com for direction on bringing your own volunteer effort to fruition or to join one of hers.

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Olivia Russo-Hood honored by the Warrick Dunn Charities, Inc.

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On Sunday, June 12, 2016, philanthropist and former NFL player Warrick Dunn, supporters and friends will recognize community and corporate angels for their tireless efforts to better the lives of our neighbors and build stronger communities.

Having learned about Olivia Russo-Hood’s impactful and personal service to others via Save the Earth Projects (S.T.E.P.), Mr. Dunn and his selection committee are recognizing Olivia’s noble efforts with a Warrick Dunn Charities Community Angel Award for her dedication to global and national social responsibility.

Olivia started S.T.E.P. at the age of 10 as a way to give back to the many people who came the aid of her family and community after a devastating FEMA disaster (flood) that rendered her and her family homeless.

Olivia set out to change the world, one S.T.E.P. at a time and her mission is to gather together with others to live responsibly locally, raise awareness for issues nationally, and whenever possible to give back globally.

Her cornerstone project is “Leave a GOOD Footprint” gently-used shoe collections that have collected over 22,000 pair of shoes in 3 years and raised thousands of dollars for charities across the USA and UK. Additionally, Olivia and her brother have a project called “S.T.E.P. Up to the Plate” community gardens educating and encouraging kids to fight childhood obesity, exercise, grow their own healthy foods, and harvest crops for hungry neighbors in local communities. Together with their mom, the kids host “Thirst Aid Stands” to raise funds and awareness for the global water crisis, and later this year, they will launch “S.T.E.P. Outside the Box” and other programs.

About Olivia

Olivia is a sought after speaker, has taught adult entrepreneurs about the importance of social responsibility and philanthropy (through Operation Hope), has presented workshops to elementary and middle school kids, and is paving the way as a member of the youth advisory board for generationOn. She was recently named an honoree for the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, the Prudential Community of Spirit Award, the YMCA Making a Difference in Local and Global Communities Award, the Kohls Cares local and regional scholarships, and the Johana Knox Award for Community Service Excellence (as the first ever youth recipient). She has been featured in local and regional newspapers and magazines, and is a repeat guest on the “Own Your Dreams with Ona Brown” radio program.

For more information visit http://www.savetheearthprojects.com or http://www.facebook.com/savetheearthprojects and http://www.facebook.com/STEPGardens

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About Warrick Dunn Charities

Warrick Dunn Charities was created from the belief that a better future starts with hope. Dedicated to strengthening and transforming communities through combating poverty, hunger and improving the quality of life for families and children, they help families thrive academically, socially, and economically. Since 1997, thousands of children and families have benefited from programs activated by NFL great Warrick Dunn. Their mission is to provide hope and healing to communities through innovative programming inspired by our Founder’s life journey.

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Sowing Seeds

Vincent plants

You do not always know why things happen. In 2009 our home and entire community were destroyed in a FEMA disaster. Everything was gone – except our hope and joy.

As you know, Olivia started Save the Earth Projects when she was 10 years old as a way to give back to the world. It was born because she saw so many people come to our aid during that dark time in September 2009 and she wanted to create a movement for good.

S.T.E.P. is only successful when people come together and live more responsibly locally, raise awareness of issues nationally, and when we are all able to give back globally.

You are likely aware that Olivia collected ~20k pair of shoes over the past 3 years for her Leave a GOOD Footprint Campaign.

What you may not know is…

When Vincent was 10 – he wanted his own project. So he created S.TE.P. Up to the Plate – community gardens. The idea is to teach kids to eat better foods, to reduce emissions, to reduce the chemicals we put in our bodies, to address childhood obesity, to get kids outside and to donate crops to people in local communities who hunger.

Well – thanks to the John Maxwell Team and specifically master gardener Emily – Olivia and Vincent received a donation of over 100 navy bean and black eyed pea plants.

Now the kids will not only be able to fill bellies with good food, but will be able to fill minds with good intentions. Grow where you’re planted, tend to the garden of your life, prune wisely to increase your health inside and out, multiply your efforts, and give away the fruits of your labor.

You’ve heard the saying “you reap what you sow”. Sow wisely.

This past week I participated in my 4th International Certification Conference as a mentorship member of the John Maxwell Team.

Dr. Maxwell was just named the top leadership expert in the world for the 7th year in a row (click here for more info on who he is, how to get involved, and how to reach me for more info)

Dr. Maxwell closed the conference talking about Ephesians 3:19-20. We are thankful to know of even a small glimpse of Christ’s love for us – it’s greater than any of us can comprehend. Our prayer is that He continue to fill us with all He has for us – because He can do much, much more than we can even imagine.

In the midst of a few thousand people from over 100 countries, I had an opportunity to speak to a group about the difference in living our lives as buckets – or as pipes. God wants to provide far more to us – but buckets can only hold so much. Buckets store, pipes transport. Buckets contain, pipes are meant for movement – for connection to other pipes – for bringing things further and more easily than they could in a solitary bucket.

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John reinforced my message by challenging us. Do you want far less? Or far more. Try to do things alone? Do things with God. Do things for selfish intent? Or to add value to people.

Lord – thank you for a love that never fails, never gives up, and provides far more than we can imagine or deserve. May you allow us continue to grow as pipes and connectors for your glory. Amen. #jmt #jmtdna#stepuptotheplate #STEP #imc2016#SaveTheEarthProjects #healthyliving#intentionalliving



For more information on S.T.E.P. you can visit our website or facebook page. We would love to see YOUR gardens! You can also always also donate your shoes!