Friday, April 8, 2011

Shoemaker looking for good soles

By J.P Squire - The Daily Courier

Soles4Souls Campain kicks off to collect 100,000 shoes for charity.

Jim Belshaw wants to change the world, one pair of shoes at a time.

The Kelowna shoemaker now has help from his colleagues at the Kelowna Sunrise Rotary Club – and from a long list of sponsors – for his Soles4Souls campaign.

Last year, the owner of Roy’s Shoes Boots and Repair at 1627 Ellis Street collected more than 40,000 pairs of shoes in 25 days for Soles4Souls, a Nashville based charity that has distributed 13.5 million pairs of footwear to impoverished resident of 127 countries.

On Wednesday, he announced the Million Shoe Mission, a campaign to collect one million pairs of footwear over the next five years. His and the Sunrise Rotarians’ immediate goal is 1000,000 pairs in 25 days, and achievable goal since they will have help from other Rotary clubs and organizations throughout the province, from Victoria to Prince George to the Kootenays.

“I’m confident we will do it, probably within three to four years,” Belshaw told reporters at his downtown Kelowna shop.

“My goal – I’m not sure if it’s my club’s goal – is to make this a Canada-wide, national program. After that, we’ll go international.”

“It’s very exciting,” Mayor Sharon Shepherd, noting everyone thought last year’s goal of 25,000 pair was lofty. Quite frankly, great ideas are (just) great ideas until someone decides they really want to make it happen. Jim is one of those.”

In 2010, 7,000 of the 40,000 pairs stayed in the Okanagan, she added, distributed to those in need through Kelowna Gospel Mission , Now Canada, Kelowna Women’s Shelter and Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre.

Maxine DeHart, who had one of last year’s drop-offs, joked her Ramada Hotel office was continually filled with shoes despite regular pick-ups. “It was unbelievable. When I saw what happened last year, you are not going to have trouble reaching that goal,” she told Belshaw. Vernon and Penticton Ramada hotels are also collecting footwear.

Afterward, Belshaw told The Daily Courier Soles4Souls just sent 100,000 pairs to Japan with others going to Haiti, Mexico and Peru.

If you don’t have shoes to donate, $1 will buy a brand new pair of shoes for somebody,” he said.

Donations can be made through  by following the link to Kelowna Sunrise Rotary or donors can go directly to

There are many reasons why he started his campaign last year, Belshaw added. “Because I could, because the need was so great. Haiti last year, sparked this. Man, I thought they are going to need lots of help, and we’ve all got dozens of pairs of shoes at home that we don’t wear anymore.”

So many dangerous and deadly diseases can enter the human body through cuts and abrasions on the feet, he said, especially the young kids.”

Donated shoes should have no holes in the soles and should be in decent shape. Shoes should be tied together or held together by elastic bands. Shoe drop-off locations, including Roy’s Shoes, Capri Insurance, Mark’s Work Warehouse, McDonald’s and OK Tire Shops, are listed at

Jim Belshaw Roy's Shoes, Boots and Repair
1627 Ellis Street Kelowna,  BC V1Y 2A8

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