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State alleges Share Our Shoes charity misused funds

Posted February 14, 2012
Updated February 15, 2012

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— The founder of a Raleigh charity has 10 days to prove to the North Carolina Secretary of State that she didn't improperly use funds for her personal use or risk losing her state charitable license.

The Secretary of State found about $65,000 worth of questionable expenses along with allegations that money raised and shoes donated didn't go toward the charity's stated purpose.

Share Our Shoes, formerly called Shoes-4-Souls Inc., registered as a nonprofit in September 2009 and obtained its current charitable solicitation license in March 2010. 

When a massive earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, Share Our Shoes founder Jennifer Pierce launched a Triangle-wide campaign asking people to empty their closets to send shoes to the island nation.

Hope Community Church donated shoes and $5,000 to be sent to Haiti, but the state contends that neither the shoes nor the money ever made it there.

Instead, according to documents released by the state Tuesday, Pierce sold the shoes to a buyer in New York.

The state's Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division sent two records requests to the organization for everything from bank statements and tax forms to receipts for shipments of shoes. 

Share Our Shoes founder Jennifer Pierce Full interview with Share Our Shoes founder Jennifer Pierce

Those requests turned up more than $47,000 in questionable checks, some of which were made out to Pierce; more than $10,000 in ATM and bank withdrawals, including at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, Fla; $5,300 in retail spending; $2,500 in gas; more than $1,000 at bars and restaurants; and nearly $400 for cosmetic hair, nail and teeth services.

But the records provided were incomplete, the state alleges, and unless Pierce can provide more complete documentation of the nonprofit's operations, Share Our Shoes will lose its license.

Pierce said she did sometimes use the charity's credit card for personal expenses, but that she always reimbursed the organization.

"I have always done the right thing 100 percent with funds that have come in," she said. "I know my heart. I know the purpose of Share Our Shoes, the purpose of the donations. I just need to get the details to the Secretary of State."

She added that she hasn't done anything illegal; she simply didn't know how to operate a nonprofit.

If Pierce is allowed to keep her charitable license, it will be up for renewal in May. 

125 Comments

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  • jamesmartin12296 Feb 17, 2012

    this woman has gambled with the church money at tne casino. took the shoes that people gave to help someone and put it on herself. she used to run another nonprofit scamming people with real estate. so this is not her first venture. do not let this meek sounding lady fool you . she is a smooth talking lady that take our money and spend it on liquor and drugs.

  • AstuutUbsrvr Feb 15, 2012

    That's one sole that won't make it into Heaven.

  • muggs Feb 15, 2012

    Getting alot for giving alittle seems to be what she has been doing,just alittle corrupt,her excuses are more worn out than the shoes she sends.

  • OneLove Feb 15, 2012

    jsma911 -- Agreed!

  • jsma911 Feb 15, 2012

    This woman is an unbelievable liar . She is trying to say that she "forgot" her personal card for $10,000 worth of purchases?
    Furthermore, I am curious as to how much her charity costs to maintain. She admitted that most of the people that work for her are volunteers. The space they rent can not possibly be that much.
    This is clearly a case of someone seeing a lot of money floating around and thought grabbing a piece here and a piece there wouldn't be a big deal.
    So sad. Oh - and I read elsewhere that she is convicted felon/ former drug addict. I am all about giving people second chances but I am surprised that she was not required to have a co-chair/ co-signer.

  • bill0 Feb 15, 2012

    "Time to shut this "charity" down--the only person who has benefited is the founder."

    As a point of fact, one of the companies that flies to haiti has confirmed that she delivered truckloads of shoes there on at least 3 occasions.

    I don't think this woman should be in charge of a large business, but she is actually running a charity. She isn't just taking all the money and skipping town.

  • rebelbelle Feb 15, 2012

    Sorry--I don't believe a word she says. If you don't know how to run a non-profit, learn BEFORE you take money. The story this time differs than it did when it first came to light several months ago--probably because it's hard to remember your lies.

    Time to shut this "charity" down--the only person who has benefited is the founder.

  • Screw WrAl Feb 15, 2012

    "She should be in prison."

    It won't be long. She'll fit right in. Minus getting her hair and nails dunn.

  • IceCreamMan Feb 15, 2012

    A couple of points need to be emphasized here IMO:

    1 - Non-profits do have expenses that need to be met. Not all donations will make their way to the charitable cause of choice. Fot instance, Komen Foundation has only 17% 'profit margin', which means only 17% of their funds go to breast cancer research. That said, they are a very large organization that has a lot of overhead (employees, insurances, merchandise costs, etc). Some people complain that only 17% of the $ goes to the charity, but those people do not understand business. Also, that 17% is many millions of $, so there's a lot of good going on there.

    2 - It sure sounds like this woman has good intentions (for the most part) with some spotty choices and terrible execution. She clearly has used organizational funds for personal use and has little to no documentation of her claims. Also, for such a small organization to have such a tiny profit margin is alarming.

  • muggs Feb 15, 2012

    Like many other stories this one will fade into the shadows as will the state employee who gave the heads up on an the turky house inspections,it seems we never get the final story just a one day event coverage,like to see many more followed through.

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