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Alsip group 'shares soles' with earthquake survivors

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

People who want to help survivors in Haiti have been encouraged to give money, but a suburban organization is focusing on feet.

There was an usual amount of activity in an Alsip, Ill. warehouse Tuesday while the non-profit organization Share You Soles extended its hours this week. Volunteers were busy turning donated, gently worn shoes into shoes suitable for earthquake survivors in Haiti.

"I love all these kids here. They got on the phone and called one another, and they showed up. And we've had people come in all afternoon, grabbing bags of shoes to bring them back tomorrow freshly washed," said Mona Purdy, creator of Share Your Soles.

Purdy created the organization 10 years ago after seeing how shoes improved the quality of life for Guatemalan children.

Now, she has shoes going to impoverished communities all over the world, including Haiti.

"Contamination on the ground from the earthquake and the rubble and being barefoot and walking on rock is going to cause more injuries," Purdy said.

Before the earthquake Purdy saw firsthand how shoes left Haitians less vulnerable to injury and disease. After the earthquake, she says the shoes will allow the survivors to find resources in the countryside.

"They need the footwear because the only way out of Port-au-Prince is to walk. And most of the roads are down. Gas is expensive; most locals can't afford gas. The closest hospital is 80 miles away. Those that are able-bodied can walk and get food and water and exist," she said.

Purdy hopes to take 15,000 shoes into Haiti next week with the help of the U.S. government and corporate sponsors.

She welcomes volunteers and shoes donations until Saturday.

For more information, visit www.shareyoursoles.org.

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