Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Accidental Shoe Drive

Back in December, when I was working on the "stockings project" for the youth at Tumbleweed, I mentioned several times that I was wanting to do a shoe drive. I wanted to gather up shoes - new or "gently used" ones - for the youth. I'd wanted to do it around Christmas time, and then I'd wanted to do it maybe in February, and then I'd wanted to do it at least some time before the brutal Phoenix summer arrived. If you've been following along, though, you know that my world has gone just a little bit (understatement) haywire over the last seven months or so. So, although it was in the back of my mind all along, the shoe drive idea has been put on the back burner.

Sort of.

A funny thing happened on the way to summer... Since I'd mentioned the idea for a shoe drive, talked about it a few times here and there and lamented about wanting to "get around to it", people started dropping off shoes at my house. "For whenever you get that started," they would say. Or, "Well, we knew you weren't ready to do that shoe drive thing just yet, but we were cleaning out our closets and didn't want to just throw these away..." This happened here and there, now and then, until I recently noticed that I have shoes lying around everywhere. I haven't even officially started the project - heck, I haven't even worked out how I'm going to do it - and already I have (I'm guessing here) between fifty and one hundred pair of shoes around here. And they are in the way. So I need to get moving on this. I mean I literally need to get moving on it, or else I need to just decide it isn't going to happen any time soon and go ahead and drop these shoes that I have off down at Tumbleweed.

Now, these shoes that I have - they still need to be gone through. They're in bags and boxes and I haven't even looked at most of them. I need to sort through them and pull out any that are not suitable for young people (I don't think most of these kids living in shelters are really looking for some sparkly, high-heeled old lady shoes), any that don't have mates (I don't know if there are any like this - just have to make sure), or any that are just downright worn out and don't have any life left in 'em. And honestly, some have been sitting in boxes so long here at my own house that they may be dusty and I might need to clean 'em up. So even as of now, even though I haven't officially started this project yet, there's work to be done.

So that brings me to now. I'd like to get this thing going and I'd like to hear some thoughts from all of you out there. Ultimately, I would like to bring about 200 pair of shoes down to Tumbleweed, and I'd like to make sure that the whole range of sizes is covered. One thing I learned a couple of years ago when I did my first Christmas project was that a lot of these young men are big guys, and it's hard for them to come across shoes in their particularly large sizes. So I will be looking for donations of shoes - new or used - and also I will be going out with my kids to thrift stores and yard sales in search of shoes in any sizes that don't appear in the donations. That's how I'd like this thing to end up. As far as how to reach these goals, here are some questions/thoughts that I'm asking for input on:

1. How should I conduct this drive? Should I just ask people to bring shoes to my house, or should I perhaps go to local businesses and ask them if I can place a donation box at their locations?

2. Should I offer the option of monetary donations to cover the cost of shoes that need to be purchased (any sizes that we don't receive)? Or should I offer the option of donating shoe store gift cards? Or is it just too off-putting to mention money at all, and in that case might I do better to simply ask for shoes and just pay for any needed additional shoes myself?

3. How should I get the word out about this drive? I can post ads on Craigslist and here on my blog, but where else? Any ideas?

4. Should I set an end date for the shoe drive at all? Or should I just say it's going on until we reach our goals?

5. Does anyone have any other thoughts, ideas or input? Anything I haven't mentioned or maybe haven't thought of?

So far this shoe drive is accidental (hence my title) - lol. Let's put our heads together and make it official, make it "on purpose"! Please share your thoughts here in comments, or feel free to drop me an e-mail at!