The Harrison Township Environmental Commission in partnership with Friends of Fairview Give Back has donated more than 150 bags of shoes since the inception of the Shoe Drive three years ago. Now, in the drive’s fourth year, the group is looking for the community to step up and kick it up a notch.
“I think that doing something that’s consistent within a community helps reinforce the values of why we even started the drive – to remind people what’s around our house that we might have excess of and how we can give it a new life,” member of the environment commission Liz Sarson said.
The annual shoe drive would normally include drop locations at Harrison Township and Pleasant Valley Elementary Schools in addition to the municipal building, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic they restricted the drop zone to exclusively the municipal building because of its central location in town.
“We wanted it to be something people could work into their regular routine,” Sarson added.
Though the schools would not be official donation areas, Sarson said they were an integral part in spreading the message through the Harrison Happenings newsletter.
“They were so supportive and they continue to support us,” she said of the schools.
With the pandemic still taking its toll on communities Sarson believed this could be a learning opportunity for all.
“We wanted the kids and families to get involved and create awareness,” she said. “With COVID we know there might be additional pressures for individuals in the South Jersey region so we didn’t want to skip a year. More so than ever we wanted to contribute in any way we could.”
The message spoken loud and clear from the environmental commission is two-fold: to help those in need and to reduce waste.
“That’s our goal, when we took on our project we thought of where the need was,” Sarson described.
The Shoe Drive runs through the end of the day on Jan. 15 and is accepting all closed toe shoes, specifically adult male shoes. Sarson noted open toed shoes will not be accepted at this time as the individuals receiving donations are focusing on shoes to utilize year-round.
The shoes are donated to local rehabilitation centers, local shelters and organizations supporting folks in need. The main organization Sarson mentioned in Friends of Fairview which ventures to Camden weekly and donates directly to those in need on the streets.
With the holiday season in the rearview mirror and folks on the receiving end of new clothes and accessories, they could put some of the worn materials to good use.
“It’s a great opportunity for individuals and households who receive new merchandise through the holidays and are in the clean out and reorganizing mode the new year often brings,” she said.