Since November, the Civitans have been collecting shoes for “Soles4Souls,” a non-profit organization that gathers and distributes donated shoes to the impoverished peoples of the world. On Tuesday, the Civitans gathered at the Inn at Merridun for their monthly meeting and to finish loading up a U-Haul truck with what past president Modest Keenan said was approximately 2,500 pounds or 1.25 tons of shoes.
“All the members brought shoes and went out in the community and got donations,” Keenan said. “It was advertised in the local media and we sent letters to churches for help in getting shoes.
“We had so many shoes we couldn’t count them,” he said. “So I took them over to Union Oil Mill and had them weighed. We collected 2,500 pounds of shoes.”
Keenan said he and fellow Civitan Jimmy Belk would drive the shoes to the Soles4Souls collection/distribution center in Roanoke, Alabama Wednesday morning. Because it was for a charitable purpose, Keenan said U-Haul gave the Civitans a 30 percent disount on the rental fee. He said Civitans paid the rental fee and financed the trip to Alabama with funds they raised through their pancake day sale and BBQ cookoff.
Once the shoes are delivered to Alabama, Keenan said Soles4Souls will sort through them and determine which ones are appropriate for conditions in Haiti and then send them to the country for distribution.
Club President Henry Sparrow thanked the people of Union County for their support.
“Around Thanksgiving, Modest presented this to the club for our annual project,” Sparrow said. “All members have donated shoes and encouraged others to do the same. We picked up the cost of transporting the shoes to Roanoke, Alabama.
“We want to thank the entire community because this is a community project,” he said. “Without community support we wouldn’t have been able to pull this off. It gives you a good feeling to know that the people of Union’s heart is in the right place. We feel that these shoes will go to people who really need them.”
Soles4Souls had its beginnings in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia when founder and CEO Wayne Elsey led a successful effort to provide a quarter million shoes to the survivors. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Esley led yet another effort, this time resulting in more than a million pairs of shoes being sent to communities devastated by the hurricane. This in turn led Esley to set up Soles4Souls as a non-profit one year later.
Since its founding six years ago, Soles4Souls has distributed nearly 12.9 million pairs of shoes. For 2011, the organization is undertaking its “11 in 11” initiative to distribute 11 million pairs of shoes by the end of the year.
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To learn more about the “Soles4Souls” organization and its 11 in 11 initiative, visit www.soles4souls.org.