SAN ANTONIO – Check your closet and take a peek under your bed or couch to find those shoes you haven’t used in months or maybe even years. Instead of tossing them out, think about donating them to a local organization such as Para Mi Gente.
Para Mi Gente is a non-profit organization founded in March of this year by Celeste Ramírez.
“It started off (with) just me, and then it grew to three of us,” Ramírez said. “We’re now at five (volunteers).”
The first campaign was a shoe drive where more than 100 pairs of shoes were donated to those living on the streets of San Antonio. Later, she hosted a menstrual product drive and has continued her work weekly through meal donations. During their visits, they continued to notice the need for shoes.
“Sometimes they’re just barefoot,” Ramírez said. “Then, of course, there’s the tattered shoes, there’s the beaters, there’s the laceless-shoes, the broken chanclas.”
Ramírez wants to help change that for several people struggling with homelessness.
For the holiday season, she’s teamed up with Juliet Burley, owner and founder of the sneaker cleaning business, Solemate.
“The shoe and sock drive was actually Juliet’s idea,” Ramírez said. “We’ve been working with the community (and) come across people that we can clearly see their need for clean shoes and socks.”
The holiday shoe drive accepts new socks, but also wants yours old kicks. Burlet said she will handle the cleaning and sanitization of each pair donated. Her prices range from $25 to $50 without including additional treatments like deodorizing.
“I get rid of the dirt and anything that might be on the bottom, (like) debris and sanitize it,” Burlet said. “Then, I work the midsole. I take out the laces and sanitize those. I then do a normal hand-wash all the way around, wipe it, clean with the microfiber to let them dry naturally.”
Their goal is to collect 200 to 300 pairs of shoes, a large task for Burlet who runs her business alone.
“I feel like a new pair of shoes to anyone is a major confidence boost, and especially to this community,” Burlet said. “They just need something to feel good, and not too often people are donating nicer shoes.”
Donations will be accepted until Saturday, Nov. 21 at four drop-off locations throughout San Antonio. The can be found here:
- Cherrity Bar, 302 Montana St
- El Ojo, 3000 N St Mary’s St
- Lazy Daze, 2166 Jackson Keller Rd
- Shanti Skin Studio, 2947 Thousand Oaks Studio #39
Ramírez plans to extend her services directly to families in San Antonio that are struggling financially. She has launched a mutual aid fund that will accept aid requests November 23 through 28 for the chance to be granted up to $150, based on case and availability of funds.
“We’re going to be gathering funds and distributing them at random (within the group of applicants) to help people with rent, utilities, medical bills, or whatever they need that they deem essential,” Ramírez said. “We’ll be (distributing funds) the last day of every month.”
For more information on Para Mi Gente’s new mutual aid fund, send Ramírez a message by visiting her page here.