August 11, 2023 | By Marlene A. Zloza, Northwest Indiana Catholic
Shoes come in all colors, sizes and styles, and chances are you have at least one perfectly good pair in your closet that you never wear, which makes them a perfect fit for Sojourner Truth House.
The women’s resource center is in the midst of a Shoe Drive that is accepting donations of all kinds of new and gently used shoes – men’s, women’s and children’s – through Aug. 31.
“We are asking people to donate their gently used pairs of shoes, and for every pound of shoes we collect, we receive 40 cents, which will contribute to our mission and programs,” said Angela Paul, STH executive director.
“The donated shoes will be sent to developing countries, where they will help people create micro-enterprises and improve their lives by selling the shoes,” explained Shelley Boyer, special events coordinator for the Poor Handmaids of Christ, STH sponsor, and a Community Ambassador for STH. “We work with an entrepreneur program that teaches people how to make a living and also to cover their own feet if they need shoes.”
Denise Carney, another STH ambassador from Crown Point, has been taking the donated shoes home to sort and band or tie them in pairs before returning them to store at STH. “I’ve already found 40 single shoes, which we can’t use, so I want to stress to bring in only pairs,” she said. “We have every kind of shoe, including plenty of gym shoes.”
In addition to a barrel outside the main entrance to STH, collection boxes are available at a number of churches, offices and businesses around Northwest Indiana. To see the complete list, or to add a site, visit sojournertruthhouse.org/shoe-drive/.
“It’s a way to get people to contribute without having to give money. The funds we raise will help our clients with their personal needs, things like meals, clothing, security deposits for housing … all kinds of expenses as they get back on their feet,” said Paul.
Another fundraiser that keeps STH going is the annual Walk for Sojourner Truth House, held for the 24th year on June 10. “There was a lot of excitement this year, with about 200 walkers, and it was a great success,” said Paul.
“Our goal was $110,000, and we exceeded that by raising $120,084.26,” added Boyer.
Both women agreed substituting bubbles for colored powder to mark the race was very popular. “We had bubbles at the stations, on the walk perimeter, coming out of shooters and bubble cameras, and everyone really enjoyed them,” Paul said.
“They were so much easier to clean up, too,” said Carney.
Coordinating the shoe drive and the STH Walk this year are the new Community Ambassadors for STH, an auxiliary that was formed in January. Boyer and Carney are among the 18 members who meet at 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month at STH.
“They are our spokespersons, embodying our pillars of advocacy, awareness, fundraising and volunteerism,” Paul explained. “They find things happening in the community and get us involved, get our name out there.”
The latest project undertaken by the ambassadors, who register with a $25 membership fee, is “Five Loaves and Two Fish,” which invites organizations and businesses to sign up to hold a monthly food drive for the STH food pantry.
Five sponsors have already signed up, and Paul noted that if collecting food is not convenient, the donor can provide a gift card for the purchase of needed supplies. “We have one church that gives us a $100 gift card for groceries,” she said.
“Eventually, we hope to get 52 organizations signed up, and then each one will only have to hold a food drive once a year,” added Carney, who became an ambassador “because I think Sojourner Truth House is a worthwhile cause.”
Boyer, a fundraiser by profession, joined the auxiliary “because it’s a nice way to bring people in to help STH. There are so many ways to help.”
For more information about the ambassador program or volunteering with STH, email email@example.com or call 885-2282 to RSVP for an upcoming STH Coffee and Conversation meeting and tour; future dates include Tuesdays, Aug. 8 and Sept. 12, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., and Thursdays, Aug. 17 and Sept. 21, from 9 to 10:30 a.m.
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