Group ships shoes to Third World countries

December 12, 2007 10:39:54 AM PST
Mona Purdy is the heart and soul of an effort to make the world a little more comfortable for thousands of children and adults. She is the founder of Share Your Soles, an organization dedicated to getting shoes to people living in Third World countries.

Over the years, Purdy has shipped tens of thousands of shoes to people who would otherwise go without them. When she created the organization Purdy had no doubt that it would grow to the national and international dimension it has become.

"I knew it was right. The right thing is always big, good is big, and it should be shared and it is being shared," said Purdy.

Distributed over the floor of a 297,000-square-foot donated warehouse in south suburban Alsip are the donated shoes, used and new, that will be shipped to countries like the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Honduras, Haiti, and others where the need is dire, even for the shipping boxes.

"I followed women in Haiti to their homes to see why they wanted the boxes," Purdy said. "I saw babies being put to bed in the boxes. I saw the box torn apart to be used as flooring, houses tables. So now we buy the boxes."

In this country, 28 states are involved in contributing to the effort.

Since Share Your Soles began in 1999, more than 350,000 pairs of shoes have been shipped by the organization to Third World countries.

Kathleen Smith is one of the organizations many volunteers.

"I like coming here," said Smith. "When you wake up in the morning, and you feel another day I've got to go to work, I always look forward to coming here. I feel real good about it."

Working on a fragile budget, keeping up with the expense of cleaning the donated shoes is always a challenge.

"Shoes are transportation," said Purdy. "Shoes are education, shoes are health insurance. We don't get that here. We take them for granted, but to them, they are car. They get them where they want to go safely. (I still get that high from the first time I did this. I've never lost that, it's great."

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