Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Store's Help is a Step in the Right Direction

A Marlton, NJ shoe store has joined with Soles4Souls to collect gently worn shoes for the poor in parts of the U.S. and overseas. Fleet Feet Sports, on Route 73 South, has collected about 200 pairs of shoes in the month since it became a drop-off location for Soles4Souls.

"It's been wildly successful," said Paul Flaherty, the store's general manager. "The response has already been much greater than we would've ever anticipated."

Many donors at the Marlton store are regular customers, Flaherty said, but anyone can walk in and donate their shoes.

"Many of our clients bring their old shoes in with them when they come in to buy new ones, and it's just a natural thing for them to just put them in the receptacle before they leave," Flaherty said.

All types, brands and sizes are needed, Flaherty said, including sneakers, high heels, men's dress shoes, slippers, even moccasins, can be used, Flaherty said.

"This isn't about the shoe's performance," he said. "We're sending to Third World countries in some cases, where children are going without any shoes at all."

Once the shoes go through the reconditioning process, they're sent to third-party organizations, like the American Red Cross, that distribute them to the needy. About 95 percent of the shoes donated are in good enough condition to refurbish and distribute and the other 5 percent are ground up and recycled into playground surfacing material.

Flaherty's store joined the effort in early February at the prompting of store employees and customers.
"Our hope is that this is only going to grow," he added.

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