Residents across the province are showing a lot of soul in supporting a shoe collection initiative started in Kelowna.
The second annual Sunrise Rotary Club’s Soles4Souls shoe drive is nearly complete, with some 60,000 pairs of shows donated this year.
Rotarian Jim Belshaw, owner of Roy’s Shoes in Kelowna and the driving force behind the campaign, said that is 20,000 more shoes than were collected last year.
On Tuesday, a number of local social service agencies were picking over shoes that could be used by their program participants.
“Last year, agencies put about 7,000 to 8,000 shoes back into the community for people in need of them,” Belshaw said.
The remainder are sent to the head distribution centre for the Soles4Souls program in Nevada, where the unwanted shoes are then sent to countries all over the world.
“It’s something I guess that everyone can identify with, we all have shoes in our closets that we don’t wear but could still be useful to people not as fortunate as ourselves,” Belshaw said.
“Otherwise, they just end up in the landfill, so there is a great recycling benefit as well.”
Chris Talbot, a volunteer with Freedom’s Door, non-profit society that uses the Twelve Step program and Christian principles to rehabilitate men struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction, was among the agency representatives collecting shoes for its clients on Tuesday.
“This is a huge benefit as we have 40 guys in the treatment program and many of them don’t have very much,” Talbot said.
He said finding runners for each of their program participants means they can benefit from the exercise routine the program offers through Parkinson Recreation Centre.
The same applies to steel-toed boots that can allow Freedom’s Door participants who are ready to go back into the workforce.
Belshaw said Rotary Clubs across the province have gravitated to the program, many indicating that next year their Rotary clubs will actively support the campaign.