Book of Dreams: Donated shoes need sheltered space to await new owners

12/17/2013 12:00 AM

10/08/2014 11:27 AM

For years, The Sacramento Bee's holiday drive has sought to help those in need in the capital region. Today, we start a new series of tales of hope and generosity.

The tarp-covered mound in Christina Preston’s backyard stands nearly 4 feet tall and is as wide and long as a living room.

Beneath are shoes. About 1,200 pairs, to be exact. From children’s to adults’, flip-flops to orthopedic sneakers. Gently used and new. And all for those in need.

But the piles of shoes are in desperate need of a structure to house them, and Book of Dreams readers have been asked to help purchase a storage shed for the shoes.

“There’s a huge need for shoes,” Preston said. “A lot of people we work with are people who don’t even care if they’re men’s or women’s shoes. We lay the shoes out and they’re gone in a few hours.”

Preston, a graduate student at UC Davis, began the project after having worked with an international disaster relief organization to collect shoes.

It was 2010, and Preston was thinking about volunteering again when she noticed a flier from Homeless Connect, asking for volunteers and supplies.

“Missing was shoes,” she said.

She’s been collecting shoes ever since, working with groups like the Girl Scouts, along with individual donors, and placing bins around the region at the beginning of the year.

The shoes are cleaned and distributed to the homeless throughout the year, given away by the hundreds at events and gatherings. In October, Shoes 4 Sacramento gave away about 700 pairs of shoes.

One of the most sought after types? Orthopedic shoes.

“So many homeless people are on their feet – they get cellulitis and have swollen legs,” said April Munroe, 32, a Shoes 4 Sacramento volunteer. “There’s a huge need.”

But the group’s assistance doesn’t stop at helping the homeless. They donate shoes to groups such as WEAVE, to be given to women who were sexually assaulted and whose clothing and shoes have been collected as evidence.

They also have worked with the Sacramento Police Department to collect shoes for children participating in the Kops-N-Kids Summer Camp. Many of the children didn’t have the proper footwear or the means to buy them, so Preston stepped in, said Michele Gigante, public information officer for the Sacramento Police Department.

“What a great partnership,” she said. “Christina saw a need the Police Department had and helped bridge that. Her ability to make a difference in the community is just inspiring.”

Needed: Storage shed for shoes to be distributed to homeless people.

Total: $3,000.

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