Shoe drive gets Queens on its feet

As others are getting ready to squeeze in last-minute summer vacations, New Yorkers working with Global Soles, a New York City-based nonprofit organization that donates footwear to underprivileged youth in third world nations, are traveling to South Africa.
The group will drop off 80 pairs of shoes to orphanages and schools in the region this week, with the remainder going to the Red Cross and Salvation Army. In August 2007, Rotimi Akinnuoye took a mission trip to South Africa with the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Brooklyn, during which he saw many children playing in the streets - without shoes. Akinnuoye was concerned not only about the health hazards of walking barefoot in the streets, but also about the cold. It was the middle of winter in Africa.
Back in Queens, Councilmember Leroy Comrie promoted the charity on Family Days during the summer and encouraged people to drop off shoes at his office. Queens residents met the challenge, donating 200 pairs of shoes.
“New Yorkers are willing to contribute to what they feel is a good cause,” said Comrie, whose interns discovered the organization. “My constituents contribute to coat drives, programs to help the homeless … [They] are strong on outreach and helping others.”
Global Soles requested donations for boys and girls ages 3-18, including sneakers and dress shoes, as well as rain and casual boots for school, church and play. For adult women and men, they asked for comfortable rubber sole shoes, sneakers and rain and casual boots.
On August 9-10 the Global Soles board members delivered this footwear to children and adults in townships in Soweto.
“I want to thank my fellow Queens residents who opened their hearts and wallets for this worthy cause,” said Comrie. “Today our borough has made a statement about our values and our role as citizens of the world. Too often our society places materialism over values - but these donations send a clear message that our community is committed to not only helping the less fortunate in our borough, but can also lend a helping hand across the world. I want to applaud the members of Global Soles for launching this initiative and allowing my office to play a small role in this shoe drive.”
For more information about Global Soles, visit globalsoles.org or contact the organization at 347-385-6843.

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