Scrutiny of founder imperils shoe charity out of North Carolina

Stop in a fitness club, shoe store or church around the Triangle and you're likely to see the purple-and-white "SOS" boxes that collect used shoes for the needy.

Over two years, Share our Shoes collected hundreds of thousands of pairs of shoes and provided them to disaster victims here and abroad, local low-income school children and the homeless.

Jennifer Pierce of Raleigh saw her nonprofit take off when a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010. She notified the media that she was putting together a shoe drive for the impoverished country, and the response helped generate more than 400,000 pairs of donated shoes.

But the media attention now has brought something else - a spotlight on Pierce.

She's a convicted felon and recovering drug addict who once ran three highly profitable mortgage services companies that she admits she abandoned after a state official told her they were on shaky legal ground.

Today, the nonprofit is in danger of closing as Pierce's past becomes more widely known and new issues with its operation surface.

Two TV reports this week questioned the nonprofit's finances and its practice of selling some of its inventory to pay organizational expenses.

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