Thursday, March 15, 2007

Business Owner Grateful for Enthusiastic Response to Shoe Drive

Several months ago, Ellen Mautner, owner of Sarah's Kiddles in Point Pleasant Beach, read a magazine article in Real Simple magazine about a young man from Guatemala whose family did not have enough money to put shoes on the child's feet.

Instead of wrapping his feet in a brightly-colored leather sneakers endorsed by Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Derek Jeter, this young man had tied a piece of cardboard to each foot with twine to protect his feet.

The story touched Ms. Mautner and led her to contact Soles4Souls, a charitable organization that collects shoes and delivers them worldwide to people in need.

Throughout the month of February, Sarah's Kiddles served as a collection point for Soles4Souls and Ms. Mautner asked the community to give what they could to help this worthy cause. This week, as the calendar was turned from February to March, she said the community came out in droves and donated 516 pairs of shoes.

"I was literally overwhelmed with how many shoes came in," Ms. Mautner said this week. "The community really seemed to come out and support what we were trying to do."

She said donations from individual residents and other community organizations poured in on almost a continuous basis.

A number of groups, like the Girl Scouts, held their own smaller collections and then donated the shoes they received to Sarah's Kiddles and Soles4Souls.

"I guess they all decided that it was a good time to clean out their closets and bring us their shoes," Ms. Mautner said. "It was great, we got shoes from kids, young people, old people, every kind of person."

Ms. Mautner said one of her customers, who winters in Florida, learned about the shoe drive while reading The Ocean Star in the Sunshine State and mailed four pairs of brand-new shoes to Point Pleasant Beach.

Ms. Mautner said the total amount of donations filled approximately eight large boxes with shoes and were shipped out as she filled them up.

Each box was sent to the Soles4Souls' regional headquarters in Wadley, Ala., and were then forwarded to a part of the world in need.

"I really want to just say thank you to everyone who helped make this such a success," Ms. Mautner said. "The whole community came together, it was just great."

One local civic group, the Point Pleasant Lions Club, has informed Ms. Mautner that it is planning on reimbursing her for the shipping costs of sending the large boxes to the Soles4Souls collection center.

In the past, Soles4Souls has sent shoes to Peru, Nepal, Guatemala, Columbia, Romania, Ukriane, Uganda, Swaziland, Liberia, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The organization, which began in 2004, also provides local assistance when the need arises.
Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Soles4Souls donated over 750,000 shoes to those people who were displaced by the storm.

According to numbers provided by the organization, 1.5 billion pairs of shoes lay idle in the United States every day.

For more information about Soles4Souls, please log on to the group's web site at

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