Clean out your closets: Soles4Souls begins March 19
By Suzy Hamilton, The Nelson Daily
Funny how a parking ticket can lead to something good.
North Shore resident Jackie Nedelec was paying a parking ticket at Kelowna city hall two years ago when she spotted a big box of used, clean shoes destined for earthquake ravaged Haiti.
“This was beyond a good idea,” she recalled. “This was brilliant. People in these situations need a drink of water, something to eat and something on their feet to protect them from disease.”
And that’s why Soles4Souls Canada comes to Nelson for one month a year.
“Nelson is a very caring community and I thought it would be well received.”
Nedelec was right. In her first year, she collected 5,000 pairs of shoes that were sent to Japan’s tsunami relief victims. This year she is hoping to top that number by setting out collection boxes in at least seven downtown locations.
With funds and volunteers from the Daybreak Rotary Club and a donated sorting space at the Chahko-Mika Mall, Nedelec will be collecting “clean and gently used shoes and boots” from March 19 to April 16.
DeVito’s Shoe Repair on Hall Street is one drop off location.
“Oh, man, I tell you, she takes a box of shoes from the store daily,” said Jeanne Dempster.
DeVito’s also donates repaired new stock which is flawed, footwear like steel-toed boots that are not usually donated.
“We’ll fix them up and give them to her. It’s a way to spread the wealth,” said Dempster.
Teo Giovanni also sets up a collection box at her store, Street Clothes Named Desire. Located at Ward and Baker streets, “I have a great corner spot,” she said.
“I bring in whatever I’ve got, we get boxes full (of shoes). It’s fabulous. Anything we can do to help, it feels good to give.”
The footwear is then trucked by Total Delivery Systems — free of charge — to Kelowna where it is sorted and sent to Nevada for distribution to people recovering from natural disasters or living in extreme poverty.
Since its inception in 2005, Soles4souls has distributed more than 13.5 million pairs of footwear to people in 127 countries, Nedelec said.
Volunteers are welcome to help sort and box the footwear. Along with Rotary Daybreak volunteers, Nedelec “gets as many girl friends as I can get” to sort and package the shoes.
Confirmed drop off locations are DeVito’s Shoe Repair, Street Clothes Named Desire, Valhalla Pure Outfitters, Save-On-Foods, Gaia Rising, Nelson Husky and Mark’s Work Wearhouse.
More locations are expected by opening day.
Nedelec said she doesn’t need much to pull this off.
“I really go through the packing tape and elastics (to secure pairs) and reuse all my signs and drop off boxes. I could use some extra money, though, for advertising.”
Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from warehouses of footwear companies and out of the closets of ordinary people, distributing shoes, free of charge, to people in need around the world.
Canadians have created the Million Shoe Mission to set specific goals for Canada and then for every province.
If you would like to volunteer or donate, call Nedelec at 250-229-5265.
For more information about Soles4Souls, go to Soles4SoulsCanada.com