Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shoes Welcome in Westville, IL

Mounds of shoes are piling up in the home of Marla Mackiewicz, and she couldn’t be happier about it. Mackiewicz is the initiator and organizer of a Soles4Souls shoe drive that will take place Saturday at the Westville Public Library.

She has been accepting donations of shoes for the drive throughout the entire month of June, as people have heard about it by word of mouth. She already had collected 204 pairs last week.

“It’s amazing,” said Mackiewicz, who is storing the shoes in her dining room. “It’s hard to imagine what 204 pairs of shoes look like.”

Mackiewicz said she heard about the Soles4Souls organization one day while watching a television show and was impressed.

“I was just amazed at what this organization was doing,” Mackiewicz said.

Mackiewicz said that all shoes are welcome on Saturday as well as monetary donations to help defray the costs of shipping the footwear to the distribution facility. All donations, whether in shoe form or monetary, are tax deductible.

"I’m telling everybody any size and any style would be wonderful,” Mackiewicz said.

Those who donate shoes at the library on Saturday will receive a ticket to be entered into a drawing for prizes that have been given by many local businesses. Latoz Hardware, Avenue Broadband, Body Benders, Casey’s General Store and John Nelk of the Barber Shop, all of Westville; and Taco Bell and Red Wing Shoes of Danville have donated gifts for the drawing.

Ken Burkhamer, owner of Red Wing Shoes with wife Diane, donated more than 50 pairs to the cause. He said the Soles4Souls group is very well known within the shoe industry.

“They have pretty good exposure within the shoe retail trades,” Burkhamer said. “This is an up-and-up organization.”

Burkhamer said the new shoes he donated were mostly women’s casual shoes. He said the donation of shoes is so important in many different situations, such as when a woman has to leave a domestic abuse situation and she only has time to grab her purse.

“She has to rebuild her wardrobe from the ground up,” Burkhamer said. He also said many times in disasters shoes are the first things that are lost or swept away.

Whatever financial donations don’t cover for the shipping of the shoes, Mackiewicz said she will be donating herself. She said she already has surpassed her original goal of 170 pairs and plans to hold more drives in the future.

“I just wanted to do this,” Mackiewicz said. “I just love doing philanthropic activities, and this is one I feel very passionate about.”

Burkhamer encouraged the community to get involved in the drive.

“It’s a good place to put their shoes, to give them to an organization that can get them to the people who need them.”

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