U of L Pronghorn ‘sole’ sisters
RECLAIM YOUR SOLE SHOE DRIVE COLLECTS SHOES FOR THOSE IN NEED
The last thing most people put on before leaving their home is a pair of shoes, but others struggle to find a pair that fits.
That’s why the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s basketball team, with support of the faculty of education and Runners Soul, launched a Reclaim Your Sole shoe drive.
On Thursday, members of the team, along with their coach Dave Adams, delivered more than 100 pairs of shoes to Lethbridge Family Services — Immigrant Services.
Adams spearheaded the drive as he knows firsthand the need within the community. Prior to his role as the coach, he worked with LFS and spent 25 years in public education.
“So, I sort of knew a little about the community, but most of all the needs of people in schools,” he said.
Especially those “coming to a new country that may not have all the necessary parts for success in school.”
Adams feels fortunate to be involved in athletics, but he’s noticed many athletes are lucky enough to have several pairs of shoes.
“We see shoes all the time at a post-secondary level and, unfortunately, a lot of the time they end up in the garbage,” he said. “So we just wanted to try to find a way to keep those out of the landfills, put them on the feet of people that could really use them.”
The drive reminded Zoe Dahl just how privileged she is to be an athlete.
“I think sometimes we forget it’s not a right, it’s a privilege to play on a team like this and it’s a privilege to be able to get shoes to play in,” she said, noting many refugees new to Canada are not as fortunate.
“It’s pretty incredible just to be able to give back that way because I have a million pairs of shoes and some people don’t even have any.”
Sarah Amies, the director for Immigrant Services, knows just how true that sentiment is.
“Many of our newcomers that we welcome into the community are not equipped with the sort of footwear that they’re going to need to live in Canada, particularly those that are coming in the winter time,” she said.
“I’ve seen far too many kids cramming their feet into tiny little shoes because there’s just been nothing else, or sharing dad’s shoes and going to the school in dad’s shoes — it’s just not a good situation.”
Thanks to the initiative, Amies is hopeful for the future.
“What we’ll be able to do is, as soon as we welcome a newcomer family, we will be able to show them the array and invite them to equip themselves with shoes, so that will be one little issue out of the way for them as they look down the journey of settlement.”
The drive has no cut off date. Donations for gently used shoes, athletic or not, may be dropped off at Runners Soul, located at 2646 South Parkside Dr., or at the U of L Sport & Recreation Services customer desk located on the first floor of the 1st Choice Savings Centre.
“We all understand that in the world, the needs are infinite,” Adams added.
“If we do a really good job, it will have enough synergy; there isn’t an end date on it until every single person that needs a pair of shoes, has a pair of shoes on their feet.”
Reclaim Your Sole is affiliated with Soles4Souls, a non-profit based in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Really, it’s a global piece and we do work with Soles4Souls, so shoes that are donated to this project not only stay here, but they also go to Soles4Souls, which focus right now is in Honduras.”
“The reason our women’s team really was excited about this project is that when the shoes go out internationally, they go to places in the world and provide employment for women who are otherwise unemployable,” he said. “We just love what it looks like and happy to be the connective piece of it all.”
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Danielle Fritzke, left, and Zoe Dahl of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s basketball team dropped off donated shoes at Lethbridge Family Services — Immigrant Services on Thursday with their teammates as part of their Reclaiming Your Sole shoe drive. @TMartinHerald