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Shoe drive helps retired racing greyhounds

| Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Roberta and Robert Erickson of Oakmont get a little help from Nikki and Cadence, two of their four rescue greyhounds, bundlng and packing shoes.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Roberta and Robert Erickson of Oakmont get a little help from Nikki and Cadence, two of their four rescue greyhounds, bundlng and packing shoes.

A shoe drive to help an organization find homes for retired racing greyhounds is set to launch, and Oakmont couple seeks to repeat as top collectors in the country.

Roberta and Bob Erickson are part of Nittany Greyhounds, a State College-based nonprofit that works with racing associations and dog owners to match families with former racers.

It partners with The Greyhound Way, a like-minded nonprofit, and Funds2org, an Orlando-based fundraising group, to help make that happen.

Funds2org will donate $1,000 to Nittany Greyhounds for every 2,500 pairs of shoes it collects.

The third annual drive is March 1 through May 5.

“Once people hear about it, they're just so happy to participate,” said Martha Steckel, Nittany Greyhounds board member and shoe drive chairwoman.

“People are really excited. We have people in businesses that are reaching out to us early on and saying, ‘Are you doing your shoe drive again?' We've got some momentum, which is great.”

Roberta Erickson said the shoe drive helps the organizations, but also gives people the chance to clean out their closets for a good cause.

“You feel like you're doing something good,” said Roberta Erickson, 57, who has adopted four greyhounds.

“I don't think we will ever have another breed. They are just wonderful pets.”

Their greyhounds are named Schuler, Cady, Jake and Nikki.

Racing greyhound are bred to be sprinters, usually weigh between 50-75 pounds and retire around age 5.

Funds raised to go toward their transportation, housing and veterinarian care.

Dogs acquired by Nittany Greyhounds receive all their inoculations, are spayed and neutered and prepped for adoption.

The Ericksons collected more than 6,000 pairs of shoes and raised $2,500 for the cause since 2015.

Nittany Greyhounds have collected about 10,000 shoes and raised $4,000.

“I thought it would be a small effort,” said Bob Erickson, 69, who hoped to collect a few hundred shoes the first year.

They ended up with 3,486 in the inaugural campaign and nearly the same amount last year.

“We just let everybody know we're doing it, and anybody that can help us out collect the shoes,” Bob Erickson said.

All shoes collected will be sent to individuals, families and communities in developing nations.

Donated shoes are cleaned or repaired before being sent, or melted down if necessary to make a new pair of shoes.

Donated shoes can be in any condition as long as they are in pairs.

Funds2org collects the shoes after the drive and ships them overseas.

“They send the shoes to developing nations and help them start up their own businesses, such as recycling, shoe repair or selling the shoes,” Steckel said.

“It helps us with our greyhound adoption, and it provides economic sustainability for developing nations. It's a pretty neat thing to do.”

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367 or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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