St. Faustina Kowalska Parish Secretary Parish Emilia Nienajadlo looks over some of the 656 pairs of shoes donated on the first day of the drive. --Photo courtesy of St. Faustina Kowalska Parish

St. Faustina Kowalska Parish Secretary Parish Emilia Nienajadlo looks over some of the 656 pairs of shoes donated on the first day of the drive. --Photo courtesy of St. Faustina Kowalska Parish

Seeking soles for souls

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Big shoe drive underway at St. Faustina

By Tim Hadac

A drive to collect 6,000 shoes is underway at St. Faustina Kowalska Parish in Garfield Ridge.

Now through June 30, parish leaders are asking everyone to donate new or gently worn pairs of shoes.

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St. Faustina Kowalska Parish Secretary Parish Emilia Nienajadlo looks over some of the 656 pairs of shoes donated on the first day of the drive. –Photo courtesy of St. Faustina Kowalska Parish

A goal of 3,000 pairs has been set, and the drive is aimed at assisting the parish’s Special Religious Development (SPRED) Program, which aids faith formation and inclusion for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

At the end of June, all shoes collected will be weighed by the Funds2Orgs, a Florida-based non-profit that will then pay St. Faustina on a per-pound rate of about 50 cents.

Funds2Orgs will distribute the shoes to micro-enterprises in developing countries, as well as in war-torn nations and in parts of the U.S. hit by natural disasters.

Micro-enterprises are small businesses, generally owned and operated by families of 1-2 people. Because of systemic poverty in many developing countries, working-age adults have to create their own economic opportunities. Micro-enterprises could be as small as a stall or shack or a brick-and-mortar shop.

They sell the donated shoes in their communities, which fosters business opportunities and leads to economic sustainability.

The St. Faustina SPRED Program will use funds raised to expand by training additional volunteers and creating a stronger curriculum, as well as purchasing art supplies, books, music and therapeutic activity materials.

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The shoes donated are distributed to micro-enterprise owners in such impoverished nations as Haiti, Botswana and Cambodia. –Supplied photo

At the drive’s kickoff day earlier this month, parish volunteers collected just over 26 bags of shoes (656 pairs of shoes total).

“It was really encouraging to see so many people come out and donate shoes,” said shoe drive chairperson Celena Strader, who also serves as operations director at the parish. “And it was not just people from our own parish. We saw donations from parishioners at Two Holy Martyrs, Blessed Martyrs of Chimbote (formerly St. Blase-St. Joseph Parish), and we also saw donations from groups like the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch. It’s a real community effort.”

While most of the shoes donated were fairly ordinary, some of the more unusual footwear donated included fringe-trimmed cowboy boots, blue snakeskin dress shoes, Jessica Simpson pumps and lace-up leather shoes worn by Polish highlanders.

Additional drop-offs may be made at the parish office, 5252 S. Austin, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays.

There also will be a collection day from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 4, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 26.

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