Southeastern chain Shoe Station is partnering with United Way to launch the retailer's “Every Step, Every Community” initiative on Sept. 20 in its 21 stores in five states.

This year-long program will include a $10,000 charitable donation, as well as collection bins in each location where consumers can donate new and gently used shoes to United Way organizations in their communities. Consumers will also have an opportunity to register to win a $10,000 cash prize.

“As a regional chain, our brick-and-mortar locations in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia have benefited from strong communities and this is our chance to give back,” said Shoe Station President and CEO Brent Barkin.

The “Every Step, Every Community” initiative is expected to collect thousands of pairs of shoes for children heading back to school, as well as for women and men.

“This endeavor enables United Way to benefit from the high traffic in our large, open-shelf stores,” Barkin said.

In past years, the fall “Free Shoes for Life” campaign was so successful that it was copied by competitors wanting to cash in on the public’s enthusiasm for the campaign.

For this fall, Shoe Station has decided to expand the opportunity. Not only will one family win $10,000, but thousands of families in need will also receive shoes. On top of that, Shoe Station is donating $10,000 to various organizations that support those in need. United Way of Southwest Alabama is coordinating both the donation of cash and all of the shoes collected in the region. The funds and shoes will be distributed to various charitable organizations in the chain’s five states.

Shoe Station is also taking additional steps to encourage donations.

First, for each pair of new or lightly worn shoes a customer brings in, Shoe Station will give that customer a $1 voucher to be used toward certain in-store purchases.

“Shoe Station offers selection for all consumers, and the ‘Every Step, Every Community' initiative reinforces our brand promise,” Barkin said.

In addition, if the $10,000 cash prize winner decides to donate their $10,000 prize to United Way, Shoe Station will match their contribution with an additional $10,000 donation of its own.

“In other words, Shoe Station is poised to donate $20,000 overall, with the further goal of coordinating the donation of 1,000 pair of shoes for every year we have been in business … as many as 35,000 pairs of shoes,” Barkin said.