Jolly Old Soles Steps Up


run, jump, leap, fall, roll: repeat

Urgency Day 224

500 Things Item #277: Children’s Shoes

  • History: 2 years worth for one four-year old
  • Value: Hundreds of dollars and now priceless
  • Parting Pain: No pain, in fact joy
  • Un-possessing: Donations

I get the shoe-thing. I really do.

Is it because I’m a girl? I don’t think so, not necessarily. My sweetie, the Eagle Scout, likes his shoes. In some ways, his collection is less noticeable than mine: They’re all brown, black or gym-shoe gray, and they are all flat flat flat. On the other foot, they are, well, enormous. Size 12-13 enormous. Like, we have to factor in additional luggage for his shoes when we travel, enormous.

At least he’s indifferent when I pack an extra pair of sandals and/or wedges and/or fabulous knee-high boots. They all fit inside his size 13’s.

And shoe people tend to pass along the genetic trait for collecting. The pile of shoes pictured though? Doesn’t come from the Self-Contained Unit. His feet resemble his father’s, and haven’t fit in Spiderman Velcro snow boots for a long time.

The pile of little boy shoes, 24 for those keeping score, comes from a friend, a single-mom who’s been through some really tough times with her little guy. She loves to buy her shoes; she loves to buy his shoes. And she’s starting to connect the dots between buying too many shoes and not having enough money. And how many pairs of shoes does a four year old need to jump like Spiderman and learn like a sponge.

Not 24 pairs but at least one. Not all our kids have even one.

We are fortunate to live in a community of problem-solvers. I am sure we in Naperville are not unique in this; I’m sure your community has these angels, too—people who don’t just notice a problem or wring their hands over a rotten situation. People who kill the problem: kill it with kindness and tenacity and stubbornness, and a lot of laughing through the tears and frustration. People who don’t want you to notice them and their good hearts, but just their good causes.

Okay, so don’t notice Naperville moms Dr. Phyllis Parise and Cherish Thompson; just notice their mission,

Jolly Old Soles.

Jolly Old Soles, LLC was created by two working mothers who wanted to make a difference and Pay It Forward. Our mission is to collect and house new and used shoes donated via the generosity of our community and distribute them to those in need.

Pay it forward to those in need. My friend, the single-mom with the 24 pairs of little boy shoes, is paying it forward. So what’s the next step for these donated shoes?

You may have noticed a link on my Blogroll, and I mention it from time to time: Families Helping Families, the Naperville charity started by Vicky Joseph. FHF helps guide formerly homeless families into self-sufficiency. The bedrock, the non-negotiable cornerstone of FHF is the absolute primacy of education: staying in school, keeping kids in school, completing degrees, acquiring more training. This is the most significant way FHF improves lives. Jolly Old Soles donates shoes to FHF families.

So what’s the next step for some of these donated shoes? Through a classroom door.

I know what you’re thinking. This is not my donation, not technically part of my 500 Things. But if I can draw attention to this amazing effort, to the mission of Jolly of Soles through my project, I promise to make  up my downsizing day off to you.

I’ll step up. I hope you will, too.

Jolly Old Soles


3 Responses to “Jolly Old Soles Steps Up”

  1. melanie Says:

    Do Paul’s shoes ever prohibit him from taking a carry-on to a plane? Cute. Love how you reminded me of one of the many reasons why I admire children: they learn like a sponge.

  2. sthibeault Says:

    He wishes to report that he can still pack in regular human-sized bags. Just can’t take as many shoes with him as he’d like. And he’d like me to stop making him feel like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians.

    • melanie Says:

      I understand – sometimes I feel like a Lilliputian in the land of Gulliver. I am so adept at climbing on top of kitchen counters to get things from the top shelf that it amazes and awes anyone who witnesses this.

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