Monday, June 16, 2008

NAFB Helps Soles4Souls deliver Shoes in Arizona

The Northern Arizona Food Bank on East Huntington Drive received a large delivery last Friday: A truck brought a 40-foot container holding 65,000 pairs of new rubber flip-flop sandals for distribution to the less fortunate in Flagstaff and the surrounding communities.

NAFB had been chosen as one of five charities nationwide to receive thousands of shoes to distribute to the less fortunate. They are helping Soles4Souls distribute the footwear as part of the National Barefoot Week campaign that was held the first week of June.

"There are 300 million children worldwide who have never owned a pair of shoes and that shocked me," said Kerry Ketchum, NAFB executive director. "National Barefoot Week allows Americans to personally participate and become aware that it is such a problem."

Soles4Souls and KIDS (Kids in Distressed Situations), a New York City organization, have donated more than 325,000 pairs of new shoes to needy people in five cities. In addition to Flagstaff, the cities of Miami, Chicago, Atlanta and New Orleans also received shipments. The Flagstaff distribution is the last event in the series.

"There are a lot of things people need besides food," Ketchum said. "NAFB has always been about food and humanitarian aid, and this falls right in there with our mission."

The sandals range in size from men's 12 to littlest children's 10C, Ketchum said. There are 140 pairs of sandals in each carton and the cartons are loaded high on four large pallets in the NAFB warehouse.

"We'll be able to make sure the shoes are going out to more remote areas, from Page to Nogales," he said. "It's going to be a chore to find a home for all of them, but with our wide area of distribution, that shouldn't be a problem."

The shoes will be distributed to the nonprofit's partner agencies and will even travel east to New Mexico and west to California, he said.

Ketchum, who grew up poor in a farming area in Oregon, said he knows how it is to have hand-me-downs. His mother single-handedly raised four children.

"There is something about owning something new, the self-esteem factor, rather than a used hand-me-down," Ketchum said.

For more information, call Northern Arizona Food Bank at 526-2211.

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