Harrison City, North Huntingdon churches, others collecting shoes

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Two local churches plan to collect shoes to donate to disaster victims and impoverished.

Penn-Zion Lutheran Parish in Harrison City, the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in North Huntingdon, the Penn-Trafford Ministirium and several others in the local Lutheran cluster collected about 1,000 pairs of new and gently used shoes for Soles4Souls, a non-profit which donates shoes to people in need and disaster victims, according to the Rev. Roger Steiner.

The churches began collecting new and used shoes, which will be donated to disaster victims and the impoverished, in April, and have been conducting collections for the past several years, said Steiner, who is the pastor of the Penn-Zion Lutheran Parish.

“In my parish's case, we do monthly projects throughout the year, and we've always had success with this collection,” he said. “We classify it as a low to no-cost mission project, where people don't have to spend money to help someone, just shoes they don't need anymore.”

Soles4Souls, which is based out of Old Hickory, Tenn., began in 2004, after a tsunami hit southeast Asia. The organization helped get 250,000 pairs of shoes donated to the victims, according to its website.

The organization helped facilitate the donation of more than 1 million pairs of shoes to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Soles4Souls goal is to continue collecting new and used shoes for the needy and those living in abject poverty, and has given out more than 19 million pairs of shoes across 127 countries, according to its website.

The churches planned the project around the spring season, when most people take time to clean their closets and get rid of unwanted items, such as shoes and clothing, said Joyce Hollick, chairwoman of social ministry committee at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior.

The shoe donation is an easy way to make a difference in lives around the world, she said.

“We like the idea of having a worldwide ministry, and these shoes will be shipped out to wherever they are needed,” Hollick said. “By giving shoe, we can help those in need, and prevent a lot of diseases contracted when people go barefoot for long periods.”

Ultimately, the churches would like to collect 20,000 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls, though they would be satisfied with breaking last year's collection of 3,500 pairs, Steiner said.

“Collecting 20,000 is a lofty goal, and we've never been close to that, but the important thing is we're supporting a ministry we believe is helpful to others,” he said.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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