5 Tips for Making a Shoe Donation During the Coronavirus Crisis

Working from home is fast becoming the norm for many Americans as the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate. But even those glued to their laptops require a break now and then. With spring just a few days away, it’s the perfect time for a seasonal wardrobe purge.

Consider donating a pair or two of shoes. Last year’s Pantone color of the year — Living Coral — has now been replaced by Classic Blue, so this might be a good place to start. However, men’s and women’s shoes of any style are always a welcome item, particularly as more and more employees around the country have their hours slashed or are being laid off.

There are lots of local organizations in communities around the country that will be accepting shoe donations in the weeks to come, so now’s the time to do some research. Check places of worship,  government agencies and even your favorite shoe store.

Here are five tips from foot and ankle surgeons on what to consider when making a shoe donation.

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1. Life Cycle of a Shoe

Don’t underestimate the wearability of any pair of shoes. Even worn running shoes likely have some life left in them. According to Dr. Miguel Cunha, founder of Gotham Footcare, although a pair of performance running shoes should typically be worn 500 to 600 miles, for someone using them as a casual shoe they could still have some mileage left. In order to bring them back to life, many can be machine washed then air-dried.

2.  Component Check

Next, take a look at the sole of the shoe. While the upper may appear to be in good shape, soles can be worn down, said Dr. Mika Hayashi, whose office collects shoes each year on June 1, the unofficial “National Go Barefoot Day,” then donates them to a range of organizations. Check for holes in the bottoms or tread that’s been worn down and can make shoes slippery. These issues could render a shoe unfit to be passed down — sans repairs. Torn laces, meanwhile, can be replaced for little cost with a pair from the local supermarket or shoe repair shop.

3. Style Guide

Since dress shoes don’t get the same wear and tear as athletic looks, a simple cleaning of the upper can bring them back to life. Gentle dishwashing liquid and water can clean the exterior — this is true even of leather shoes. For stubborn dirt, try a soft bristle toothbrush. Seasonal styles such as snow or rain boots usually have the least mileage on them and are often the easiest styles to fit.

4. Get the Kids Involved

Don’t think it’s just adult shoes that are suitable for donations. In fact, the most donatable shoes are those for children, according to both doctors. Since kids tend to outgrow their shoes before they wear them out, they can often be safely passed from child to child.

5. Cleaning Protocol

Shoes can be sanitized at home with products such as Lysol disinfecting spray. Dr. Hayashi suggests holding shoes upright, then spraying the footbed since it’s easier to reach the toe area. If insoles can be removed, they can also be sprayed outside the shoe, allowed to dry and then replaced. For those who want to make a small investment in their donation, an inexpensive pair of insoles can be purchased to replace worn ones, or simply placed on top of those inside the shoe.

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