March is a month of giving at Stan’s Fit For Your Feet and New Balance Milwaukee.
This year marks our eighth annual Share-A-Pair shoe drive. Between March 1 and 31, you can donate new or gently used shoes to any of our three Stan’s Fit For Your Feet stores and two New Balance Milwaukee locations. Anyone who donates a pair will receive a $10 Gift Card.
All shoes are given to people in need throughout the area and world, with some personally delivered and fit for homeless members of the community and people struggling to get by through Milwaukee’s Repairers of the Breach. Father Gene’s Help Center in West Allis also receives and distributes shoes throughout the region. The remaining shoes are given to Soles4Souls, a global not-for-profit institution which gathers new shoes and clothing for victims of abject suffering and used shoes for micro-enterprise efforts designed to eradicate poverty around the world.
Like Stan’s Fit For Your Feet, Father Gene’s Help Center has long been a fixture of the Greater Milwaukee community. Founded by Father Gene Jakubek in 1969, the Center grew out of the priest’s television show “The Answer Is Love.” Deacon Don Borkowski, who serves as the Center’s Executive Director and knew Father Gene personally, says the show won many followers for his friend. When the priest encountered someone in need of an article of clothing one day, he discovered a way his fans could volunteer their time and talents to help. Today, an army of retirees keeps Father Gene’s Help Center running.
“Something we have in common with Stan’s Fit For Your Feet is that we save soles (souls) together!” jokes Borkowski.
“The thing that is unique about it is we don’t charge anything,” he adds.
In addition to collecting shoes, the Center accepts other articles of clothing, household goods, toys and games. It often assists people who have experienced fires or other catastrophes.
Borkowski, who has five children and joined the Center after retiring 18 years ago, describes his leadership role with humility.
“They needed someone to step in and unlock the doors every day,” he explains.
Stan’s Fit For Your Feet’s is proud to partner with Father Gene’s Help Center.
“We’ve been involved with Jim Sajdak for the last several years,” says Borkowski. “We’ve been the recipient of many shoes. The first year we got 280 cases, which was 7,000 pairs of shoes. You should have seen the space it took up and the manpower to go through them!”
The Center’s mission is a re-wording of a well-known passage from the Gospel of Matthew: “When you help those in need, you help the Lord indeed.”
“That encapsulates Father Gene’s mantra,” says Borkowski. “We do it with a cheerful, giving heart.”
Father Gene’s Help Center is located at 5919 W. National Ave. in West Allis, WI 53214. It is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, and can be reached by phone at 414-258-9023 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate shoes to Share-A-Pair, please visit Stan’s Fit For Your Feet in Brookfield at 17155 W. Bluemound Road, in Greenfield at 7405 W. Layton Avenue or in Glendale at 505 W. Silver Spring Drive. New Balance Milwaukee also collects shoes at the Brookfield and Greenfield locations.
Will you help people in need get back on their feet this March?