Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Soles for Souls (Observer & Eccentric Newspaper)

By Kate Phillips, SPECIAL WRITER

It started with a tiny kernel.

One person had an idea to collect shoes for those in need. Thanks to the generosity of the people of South Lyon, the kernel has popped into an entire tub full of buttery popcorn.

A massive shoe drive is happening in South Lyon for the entire month of March. New and gently used shoes in all sizes are being collected at local businesses - Jazzercise, Perfect Package, Family Financial, Wellness For You and The South Lyon Herald.

The shoes will be given to Active Faith and an international organization called Soles4Souls.

It all started when Kymm Loch of South Lyon noticed a blurb about Soles4Souls in a fitness magazine. The local massage therapist thought it sounded interesting and tore out the page.

Then as Loch watched a TV program about a charitable endeavor by Oprah Winfrey, the kernel started spinning around in her head. Loch felt a little discouraged thinking that since she hasn't the wealth of Oprah, she couldn't make an impact.

"I was thinking 'What can I do?'" said Loch. "I considered a couple of possibilities, then I remembered that page I had torn out of the magazine. I felt like this was something I could do."

At first Loch decided to extend the shoe collection to clients at her massage therapy business, "Wellness For You." She's offering $1 off treatment for each pair of donated shoes, up to 10 pairs.

But then the popcorn started popping wildly when she thought of a way to get more exposure for the shoe drive. Loch decided to ask Jamie Martin at Jazzercise of South Lyon to help collect the shoes. Loch works out regularly at the new fitness center.

"They have as many people in one class as I might see during the whole month," said Loch. "I thought that this could get really big if they were willing to help."

Almost as soon as Loch opened her mouth, Martin was on board. It's the type of thing she loves.
"We're really excited about this," Martin said. "It's so easy because everyone has a pair of shoes they don't wear anymore that are still in great shape. It's something anyone can help with."

So the pair decided to set a goal of 5,000 shoes by the end of March. They hope to cover the fitness center floor with shoes.

Since shipping 5,000 shoes to Soles4Souls in Alabama will cost a tremendous amount, Martin and Loch are asking for a donation of $1 with each pair of shoes to defray shipping. The donation is suggested but isn't required.

Perfect Package of South Lyon jumped aboard to help with packing supplies or shipping costs and serving as a drop-off point.

Since the shoe drive has started, it seems as if everyone that hears about it wants to help out. Instead of bringing in one pair, many people are bringing in 10 or 20. Others are actually collecting shoes from people they know.

Loch, a mother of three, asked her daughter's teacher at Millennium Middle School if they could open the collection to the class. It's turned into a "competition" between the sixth grade.

When Loch mentioned it to a friend who works at Macy's in Novi, the kind heart offered to take up a collection of shoes among the employees. The same thing happened with a consultant for Arbonne. A Novi church has also collected shoes and made a donation to help with shipping.
Even several South Lyon High School sports teams have joined the shoe drive team.

"The blessings have started falling like dominoes," said Loch. "I can't believe it's gotten so big. I get goosebumps when I think about it. At their core, people are good and they want to help."

The women decided to make this shoe drive benefit the South Lyon community, so they asked Active Faith to write out a wish list with specific numbers and types of shoes the non-profit could use. They'll fill the wish list for Active Faith first, then donate the rest to Soles4Souls.

Any type of shoes that are in good condition are acceptable, as long as the pair is secured with a rubber band or string.

To find out more contact Jazzercise at (248) 486-3674 or Wellness For You at (248) 486-3254. For information on Soles4Souls go to

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