Two sisters are putting their best feet forward to collect shoes to donate to Winnipeg’s needy.
Pam Grynol and Voula Sarlas have owned Soul Shoes on Lilac Avenue for seven years, and for the sixth year in a row are organizing the Shoe Your Spirit campaign.
Last year, the campaign collected more than 3,000 pairs of shoes. This year, the women are aiming for a lofty goal of 10,000 pairs.
While they recognize it’s an ambitious goal, the sisters said they believe it’s achievable.
"It’s baby steps. This year if we can get it awesome, but if we get a little bit under we’ll work towards it next year," said Sarlas, who lives in Crestview.
As owners of a shoe store, the sisters acknowledge the decision to start a shoe drive was an easy one.
"You see people not wearing the proper footwear in the winter, and that’s just heartbreaking to us," said Grynol, who lives in Tuxedo.
The duo said they want to help everyone in the city, regardless of their situation, get proper winter footwear.
"We have so many shoes and it’s the least we can do," Grynol said.
In the past, the sisters have received donations from across the city. They’re hoping their customers, and members of the community, will donate gently used or new pairs of winter shoes and boots to help them reach their goal.
"It’s an amazing feeling when everyone brings in bags full of stuff. At this time of year everyone is so generous," Grynol said, noting donations have increased each year of the campaign.
The business owners aren’t just collecting shoes during the holiday season. They will continue to accept donations throughout the winter.
Since its inception, the Shoe your Spirit campaign has donated all of the winter shoes and boots collected to the United Way, which distributes them to various organizations under their umbrella.
"We’ve met with (one of the staff members at the United Way) and he mentioned the need for winter footwear is (great)," Grynol said.
Sarlas said the duo is happy to give back to their community and get customers and community members involved in the process.
"It’s nice to see when people want to help other people. There are so many amazing people in our community," she said.
Grynol said she and her sister rely on the community to support their business, and the Shoe Your Spirit campaign is a way of giving back.
"We try to do the best we can to make a difference," Grynol said.
The sisters created a video to spread the word about Shoe Your Spirit and encourage people to donate. To watch the video, or for more information on the campaign visit shoeyourspirit.com.
You can drop off new or gently used winter footwear to Soul Shoes at 167 Lilac Ave.