Join the Sixth Annual Soles4Souls Shoe Drive.  There will be a collection box in 11 local churches, 9 schools, Northport and East Northport Libraries, Gold’s Gym, the Eastern Athletic Club, and the Asharoken Village Hall Trailer March 1 – 31, 2015 for you to deposit any type of new or used shoes for redistribution to needy people in the U.S. and over 125 countries around the world.  The Northport and Greater Long Island Running Clubs are also participating.  The drive is sponsored by the Northport and East-Northport Rotary Clubs.  The goal is 20,000 pairs of shoes.  So, start cleaning your closets.
 
Organized by Northport Rotarian Anita Thomas and husband, Bill, in 2010, the number of shoes collected has grown from the initial effort at Gold’s Gym of 500 pairs of shoes to 14,000 in 2014.  Soles4Souls was founded by Wayne Elsey, initially as a response to a 2004 Tsunami in Southeast Asia.  He called executives in the shoe industry and delivered a quarter of a million shoes to areas devastated.  Then, in response to Hurricane Katrina, over a million shoes were delivered to gulf coast communities.  A year later, Soles4Souls was established and has collected and delivered over 21 million pairs of shoes around the world.  The U.S. is first priority but disasters and general poverty provide plenty of demand worldwide.  Shoes in need of repair go to local micro-business owners who restore the shoes, sell them for small amounts and thereby support their families
 
Anita and Bill Thomas had the opportunity to participate on a shoe delivery trip in Costa Rica in November 2014.  They spent a week with a team of 14 volunteers from around the U.S. at a school, church and remote village washing children’s feet, measuring for size and delivering shoes.  Anita described the experience – “We wanted to see what happens with the shoes.  It is difficult not to be touched deeply when you see the smiles and joy of children getting something so basic as a pair of shoes.  We were overwhelmed by the amount of Northport community support when we first collected 500 pairs.  Each year there have been more people involved.  I know we will meet our goal of 20,000 pairs this year.”
 
See Observer story for more details.