04 March 2010

Donated Shoes to Help Haitian Earthquake Victims

The Hub

RED BANK NJ -- Borough officials, schools and businesses are working in tandem to help the people of Haiti by collecting much-needed gently used shoes

A drive is being coordinated in conjunction with the nonprofit international organization Soles4Souls, Councilman Michael DuPont with the Borough Council’s Education and Technology Committee, borough schools and local businesses.

A townwide collection to gather shoes for victims of the recent earthquake will be held on March 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Red Bank Middle School on Harding Road.

According to DuPont, there are 1.2 billion shoes that sit in closets unused and more than 300 million people in the world without shoes.

In these economic times, DuPont said a good lesson to learn is that people can make a positive difference without digging into their pockets.

“You don’t have to have money to make an impact,” DuPont said. “It’s a great opportunity for our kids to help those in need.”

DuPont explained that children are the driving force behind the effort.

“This is a wonderful community service project. The people of Red Bank can make a huge impact,” he said. “This teaches our kids to be someone that others can depend on.”

All of the schools located in the borough have drop-boxes and are aiding in the initiative.

“It’s a great opportunity to engage our kids in the concept of giving back,” said Red Bank School Superintendent Laura C. Morana.

“It’s about the school system getting involved to make a difference,” DuPont added.

Men’s, women’s and kids shoes off all sizes and varieties can be dropped off at several locations, including all municipal facilities and borough schools, prior to March 6. Several downtown businesses are also participating in the program as drop-off sites.

DuPont said that following the collection day H&M Trucking Co. of Edison would transport the shoes to Soles4Souls headquarters in Nashville for distribution.

Donated shoes must be in good condition with no holes, separated soles or missing laces.

Soles4Souls partners with individuals, companies and charities around the country to hold footwear drives to help needy people around the world. The company also partners with footwear companies to collect and distribute customer returns, excess inventory and cash to support its mission of collecting adult and childrens shoes.

In an additional effort to raise money for Haiti, students and faculty at the middle school created Hearts for Haiti, a fundraising event to be held March 5 in the gymnasium.

The program includes live performances by the middle school band, local artists and Thundercheese, a band that features teacher Christopher Ippolito. Students will also read poetry.

Students and staff have created handcrafted House for Haiti pins that will be sold for $5 at the event. All proceeds from the event will benefit the American Red Cross Haitian Relief Fund.

Seventh- and eighth-grade social studies teacher J.T. Pierson explained that the event would bring the community together and help a country that is suffering.

“We’d talk about it [the earthquake] and the students wanted to help,” Pierson said. “They thought, what’s the point of talking if we don’t do something?”

Soles4Souls had its unofficial beginning following the 2004 tsunami that hit Southeast Asia. Formally incorporated in 2006, the organization currently collects between 45,000 and 60,000 pairs of shoes weekly, which are distributed to people in desperate need. According to the organization’s website, a new pair of shoes is distributed every nine seconds.

Recipients of the donated shoes include victims of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or the Haitian earthquake, people living in abject poverty such as refugee camps in Uganda, and people in need of a fresh start such as people in need of dress shoes for new jobs.

For more information about Soles4Souls, visit www.soles4souls.org.

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