Charity founder loses belongings in fire

January 31, 2012 10:00:00 PM PST
A Chicago-area woman who runs a charity providing shoes for those in need now needs some help herself.Mona Purdy lost her apartment in a fire and is now coping with losses from that blaze.

Purdy has spent several years of her life giving back. Since traveling to Guatemala in 1999, her mission has been to make sure children around the world have shoes on their feet through her non-profit organization, Share Your Soles.

"The fire alarms were going off, and I turn around, and the back of the loveseat was ablaze," Purdy told ABC7 Chicago. "All of sudden, the was surreal."

Purdy and firefighters say an electrical short sparked the fire inside her second-floor apartment this week.

Fortunately, the Share Your Soles files and paperwork are housed in a nearby office. The organization has donated 1.5 million shoes and also ships bikes and medical equipment around the world.

"I meet people that lose this stuff all the time. That's what we do-- disaster relief. And I ask them what's like when you lose all of your stuff, and they look at me like their eyes are dead inside," said Purdy.

In addition to losing everything, including her shoes, Purdy also says she is fighting off a throat infection she developed in Mexico during a trip for charity.

"Right now, it's the most lonely feeling in the world," she said. "It's almost like you're on that rug, and then all of a sudden, [someone pulls it from under you]. And then, all of a sudden, you're on your feet, but you still had that...happen."

Chicago-area American Red Cross volunteers are helping Purdy and have provided a hotel room for her. Anyone else interested in helping Purdy and her charity, can log on to