Volunteers step up to give 1,000 pairs of shoes to needy

South Toledo event kicks off in style

11/12/2012
BY MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jeremy Schmidlin of Toledo helps his niece Hannah Jeski, 9, also of Toledo, check the size of a pair of boots. Hundreds of people wait patiently for their chance to get a used pair of shoes at the South Toledo Community Center.
Jeremy Schmidlin of Toledo helps his niece Hannah Jeski, 9, also of Toledo, check the size of a pair of boots. Hundreds of people wait patiently for their chance to get a used pair of shoes at the South Toledo Community Center.

The summerlike weather Sunday failed to distract Mary Siders from winter concerns.

“I need shoes because winter is coming. And I don’t have the money to buy shoes,” Mrs. Siders of Jervis Street said as she stood in a line of about 100 people, waiting for her turn to pick up a free pair at a shoe giveaway in the parking lot of the South Toledo Community Center, 1411 Broadway, in South Toledo.

Mrs. Siders, 46, who is unemployed, said she needed a pair for herself and another for her husband, Melvin Siders, 49, a construction worker who she said is looking for a job.

About 380 people were served during the first hour of the giveaway, which opened at noon and was to run until 7 p.m. or until no shoes were left. In addition to shoes, the giveaway included food served at 6 p.m.

About 1,000 gently worn pairs of men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes had been donated for the event by residents of northwest Ohio and Stikii, a Toledo shoe manufacturing company that sponsored it, according to Tony Martinez, 25, the company’s general manager, who coordinated the volunteers.

The shoes were collected from July through September, he said.

“There is a huge need. It’s not that people are becoming poorer, it’s just harder for them to find jobs,” said the Rev. David Kaiser, 49, pastor of Western Avenue Ministries in Toledo. He was in the parking lot to help maintain peace and order, he said.

Donated shots are sorted by size at a table at the South Toledo Community Center.
Donated shots are sorted by size at a table at the South Toledo Community Center.

He went on to say that his church’s research had found that those in need who attend such giveaways come from households that on average live on $650 a month and have four children. Some of those in need “live on nothing,” he said.

About a dozen volunteers directed the line while helping recipients find the shoes that suited them. Many of the volunteers were parishioners of Western Avenue Ministries, which is located at the community center.

Said Mariah West, 12, a sixth-grade student at Beverly Elementary School who assisted attendees in finding shoes: “It makes me happy to know that I am helping people.”

Contact Mike Sigov at: sigov@theblade.com or 419-724-6089.