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by Dianne Bunis

Correspondent

Groton — Fitness Your Weigh and Groton Wellness, two local businesses, have teamed up to organize a shoe drive March 1 through 31 that will benefit The Give and Take Shop in Groton and Soles4Souls, a non-profit organization that delivers shoes to people who desperately need them.

Kerry Madden, from Groton, personal trainer at Fitness Your Weigh and Squannacook River Runners (local running club) member said with the Groton Road Race a month away, she was asked by another member what to do with their used running shoes.

“I googled… what to do with my old sneakers,” said Madden who discovered Soles4Souls on the internet and was very impressed with the company and it’s mission.

Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity, facilitates the delivery of new and gently used shoes to give relief to victims, regardless of race, religion or class. In the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, Wayne Elsey, founder Soles4Souls, (at that time a footwear industry executive) organized the collection of a quarter million shoes and later that year, for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Over the last five years, the company has delivered 15 million pairs of shoes, donated from footwear companies, retailers, churches, schools, civic groups and others, to over 127 countries including the U.S.

Madden was so inspired to make a difference to help people who desperately need footwear, she shared the idea of a community shoe drive with Fitness Your Weigh owner, Steve Levesque, of Merrimack, NH.

Having previously supported local food and toy drives but nothing on this scale, Levesque said, “This is the first time it has gone beyond our doors…I think it’s great.”

They contacted Mill Run business neighbor, Groton Wellness, to join the month-long drive and offer road race ready workshops together. Linda Leland, from Pepperell, Director of Groton Wellness, said, “It’s a great cause and it’s keeping our landfills cleaner.”

“We wanted to hold the drive this month because the Groton Road Race is coming up April 29, people are going to need to buy new sneakers and this is a great way to recycle their old pairs!” said Madden.

Collection boxes have been placed around town to collect every kind of shoe that’s hiding in your closet “except your barn-mucking boots and stilettos…kids to grown up shoes,” said Madden. She added that even if they are in really bad shape, the company will salvage parts and recycle them.

“We’d also like to keep some of the shoes local to help our friends in need, so we are taking a generous donation, the ones in best shape, to the Give and Take Shop on Court Street, in Groton.

As word of the shoe drive spread around town, several local businesses offered to host collection boxes according to Madden. Joni Parker Roach of NOA Fine Art Gallery and School and Groton Community School have collection boxes decorated by children that are available for donations of new or gently used shoes during business hours.

According to Madden, shipping boxes have been donated by Dover Saddlery in Littleton and the cost to ship the shoes to Soles4Souls is approximately $1 per pair. Once the shoes are received they are cleaned and readied for distribution or recycling parts and it will cost another $1 per pair to get the shoes to those in need.

To help cover shipping costs, the organizers have set up a website with Sole4Souls to accept monetary donations at http://www.soles4soulsfundraising.org/Groton_shoedrive. “This is a great option if someone doesn’t have shoes to donate or would just love to help this wonderful organization,” said Madden.

Levesque commented on how the shoe drive is connecting so many local businesses and said, “This could be bring in thousands of pairs of shoes…wow!”

Drop off your gently used shoes through March 31 at the following locations:

Fitness Your Weigh, Mill Run Plaza, 495 Main Street, Groton, 978-877-1427,

Monday and Wednesday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Groton Wellness, Mill Run Plaza, 493 Main Street, Groton, 978-449-9919, Monday, Wednesday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Groton Community School, 110 Boston Road, Groton, 978-448-6179, Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

NOA Fine Art Gallery and School, 113 Main Street, Groton, 978-448-2959, Monday – Friday 12 – 6:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Upcoming event

Your Best Road Race Workshop, Tuesday, March 13, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., Groton Wellness, Mill Run Plaza, 493 Main Street, Groton, 978-449-9919

Join Fitness Your Weigh and Groton Wellness and learn how to best take care of your muscles and joints before, during and after your next road race, training strategies, injury prevention, nutrition tips, massage and tasty samples. Free, with donation of a gently used pair of shoes. All ages are welcome to join.

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