Shoes That Fit Marks 20 Years, 1M Pairs of Shoes

The charitable organization Shoes That Fit celebrated its 20-year anniversary and the donation of its millionth pair of shoes to needy children in Los Angeles on Saturday with a black-tie “Sneaker Ball” held at The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.

Receiving special honors for their long work with the charity were Michele Love, national merchandise manager for salon and designer shoes at Nordstrom; Shoes That Fit founder Elodie McGuirk; and Bob Montgomery, a volunteer from the Des Moines, Iowa, chapter of the organization.

For her part, Love said she valued the efficiency of the organization and the fact that it helps children in the U.S. “I love that this charity is grassroots and there are hardly any administrative costs, so almost 100 percent of the money [we raise] goes right to the kids,” she said. “While I support tons of charities everywhere in the world — and kids everywhere need to have shoes — there are kids in our own backyard who don’t have shoes.

“Kids need the basics so they can go to school and concentrate on learning,” she added. “Kids can be so focused on not fitting in that they’re not focused on their schoolwork and they continue to fall behind. But if they have shoes, underwear, socks and the right clothes, they fit in, they feel like they belong, they concentrate on their schoolwork and it helps with the vicious cycle of [poverty].”

Roni Lomeli, executive director for the charity, said that even though the milestone of donating 1 million pairs of shoes was overwhelming, she planned to accelerate the pace of the organization’s activities.

“We started so small, out of a closet, and it’s grown thanks to this amazing group of volunteers and [corporate] partners,” she said. “We’re so excited to be here after 20 years and 1 million pairs of shoes. But we want to do it again, and get to 2 million pairs within five years, and with the people we have here tonight and our corporate partners, we can do it.”

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