Over 1,000 pairs of donated shoes arrives in Chicago area but headed to Ukraine next

Fourteen pallets of donated shoes shipped from Canada arrive at a warehouse in Historic Pullman used by Share Your Soles. The shoes will be taken to war-torn Ukraine next month to be given to whoever needs them. Photo credit Brandon Ison/WBBM Newsradio

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) --Share Your Soles in Historic Pullman received 14 pallets of donated shoes Friday. The shoes were shipped from Canada and made it to Chicago in a box truck.

After unloading the pallets of shoes into the Share Your Soles warehouse with one hand still on a pallet jack, the non-profit’s founder Mona Purdy said that the hard work has yet to begin.

“I’m raising funds now to pay for shipping and safe transport because security is always an issue when I travel. This is going to Europe, but we’ve worked in twelve countries in Africa, forty locations around the world.”, she said.

“And most of the places we go there are no resources, there aren’t food banks, there aren’t shoe banks, but there’s the Mona Purdy Share Your Soles bank.”

This shipment with nearly 1,600 pairs of shoes are intended for people who are still in Ukraine, displaced from their homes and in dire need as Russia’s invasion of the country continues. Purdy will now need to fly commercial air to Krakow, Poland, taking the shoes with her.

Members of Chicago’s Polish community have arranged for storage of the shoes in Poland when she arrives and also a place for Purdy to stay the night before she then heads across the border into Ukraine, to the capital city of Kyiv.

Paying out of pocket for the transportation and shipping, Purdy will be flying and traveling alone with the shoes and will need to hire security once she begins her trek from Poland into war-torn Ukraine.

“We go to some sketchy places, and sketchy things happen in sketchy places…”, she said.

Purdy said that new or gently used shoe donations are always welcome, but that this campaign to bring shoes to those in Ukraine who need them is expensive and that the best way to help right now is with cash donations that can be made through the organization's website at ShareYourSoles.org.

She leaves for Ukraine on April 6.

The donated shoes arrived at the Share Your Soles location in Historic Pullman as about a dozen children from Glenview were helping Purdy with the organization’s usual business of collecting and sorting donated shoes that will be given to those who need them in the Chicago area.

Children from Northwest suburban Glenview volunteer with Share Your Soles. The organization also provides donated shoes to the local Chicagoland community. Photo credit Brandon Ison/WBBM Newsradio

In addition to distributing donated shoes to the local community for the past 24 years, Purdy, through her charity, provides educational, service oriented opportunities for local children.

“What we do is education, this (group of children) is one of many, during the school year three groups of students come through my doors every week and they learn about the world, their place in it, social responsibility, people blessed with so much giving back to those with less.” she said.

The Share Your Soles slogan is “Lacing the world together, one pair at a time”.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Brandon Ison/WBBM Newsradio