Friday, April 24, 2009

Soles4Souls Collector Aims for 100,000 Pair

Growing up with his mother, two brothers and a sister in lovely and mountainous Cayey, Puerto Rico, Alexander Diaz was poor, but, he said, he "always had a pair of shoes." Today, he is working to make sure that 100,000 needy people around the world receive the same.

"I would be the first individual to donate 100,000 pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls. That is my goal. I always reach my goals," he said.

Diaz said his family in Puerto Rico valued shoes as something special, not something to be taken for granted.

"My mother worked hard to provide for us. We worked hard for a pair of shoes. That's what I wanted for my birthday. When my feet are happy, I am happy."

Diaz lives in Charlton, MA and owns the UPS Store franchises at 482 Southbridge St., Auburn; 210 Park Ave., Worcester; and 800 Main St., Holden. They are collecting new and "gently used" shoes at these and other locations.

"So many people have been affected by the recession. So many people are in need. Shoes can make a huge difference in their lives," Diaz said.

St. Joseph's Church of Auburn also heeded his call for help, as well as a volunteer group from Auburn High School and the Boy Scout Troop 101. After less than two months of collecting shoes, Diaz has more than 2,500 pairs of shoes, all boxed and stored along the walls of the UPS Store in Auburn.

"They will go all over the United States and all over the world," he said. "We can keep the feet of 100,000 people with something on them, making them feel better."

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