Friday, May 01, 2009

Shoe Sellers Give to Shelters

Executives of the National Shoe Retailers Association decided to include a community service event during their annual conference at St. Pete Beach. Partnering with Soles4Souls, the group is working to donate more than 1,500 pairs of shoes to needy residents at the Pinellas Hope transitional camp today and other shelters across the county.

The group first contacted Soles4Souls six months ago to see if they would be interested in assisting with the project.

"They didn't think it would be appropriate to do all the things they normally do," said Chris Carmichael, who works for Soles4Souls and was on hand to help with the event. "They wanted to all come out for a day of service."

The conference, at the Don CeSar Beach Resort, will feature several executives from major shoe retailers across the country, including Nike, Timberland and Kenneth Cole.

Carmichael partnered with Rhonda Abbott, manager of social services planning for the city of St. Petersburg, who identified Pinellas Hope and two other shelters that could benefit from leftover shoes. All the shoes delivered will be new. People who are unable to find shoes in their size will receive a voucher for a pair to be shipped to the agency or shelter where they receive services.

"I was glad that we were chosen, because they travel all over the world doing this," Abbott said. She added that the donation was coming at a time when charitable contributions are low because of the weakening economy and more families are needy.

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