Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State revoked the license of a Raleigh-based charity Tuesday based upon allegations that the founder misused donations.
Jennifer Pierce founded Share Our Shoes, formerly called Shoes-4-Souls Inc., in September 2009, to collect shoes and donate them to the needy. She ran a high-profile collection drive in January 2010 immediately after the earthquake in Haiti.
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 last month, 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.
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.
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.