Don’t forget about feet this holiday season

Something easily taken for granted is found on one’s feet when he or she heads to work, school or another place, or piled up in one’s closet: shoes.

On the heels of Thanksgiving, Coastal Podiatry Associates continues collecting new and gently used shoes – and new socks for relay to local needy children and adults. Drop-off donations for this third annual shoe drive through Dec. 15 are the practice’s offices in Myrtle Beach, Conway, Little River and near Surfside Beach.

Tanya Sewell, director of patient and community relations for the firm operated by four doctors and a crew of 15 people, said in the week before Thanksgiving that this annual collection began with inspiration from the global effort by the Soles4Souls shoe charity, and the outpouring of relief after the Haitian earthquake in January 2010.

Just thinking about such a basic need locally, Coastal Podiatry officials have stepped up awareness about this critical need across Horry County with this shoe drive every fall, Sewell said.

Question | Just how close to home across Horry County has this demand prompted these annual drives?

Answer | We found there was just such a need in our community. The numbers of homeless people, even just homeless students, were just shocking to us. Last year, we started distribution to the schools, because we were getting calls ... asking if you have any shoes, can you send them our way? We also give out to Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach and other organizations that need the shoes.

Q. | Just how vital are shoes for someone without a home?

A. | A homeless person wears out a pair of shoes in seven to eight weeks. The feet are the most important part of the body for the homeless person. They’re always walking, and then there’s the elements. Socks – if they have socks on – get wet. The elements play a big part as well.

So we invite people to bring in gently worn shoes or new shoes. I know myself, I have shoes that I have never worn. Everybody has shoes in their closet that they have never worn or [only worn] a couple of times. And we are asking for new socks, not used.

Q. | How did socks work their way into this cause?

A. | From the schools, because there were children coming in to school with flip-flops in very cold temperatures, and they didn’t have shoes or socks. Whatever people are generous enough to give, we’ll accept.

Q. | How high have the piles risen in these drives, and how does timing this drive heading into winter help the most?

A. | We receive thousands of shoes. This is why we shortened the drive this year; October to March was too long. We had an overabundance of shoes. ... It was just overwhelming, so we really had to narrow down this season to October to December. People are more generous at this time of year. This is when we get the majority of the shoes.

Q. | Do certain types of shoes generate the most mileage for recipients?

A. | Running shoes, for children in particular. Running shoes are the most popular shoes asked for. Actually today, I started categorizing and am getting ready to make a dropoff in the next week or so to Myrtle Beach High School. I probably will be getting other ones distributed to Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach.

Q. | Are any sizes of shoes or socks in need the most?

A. | Especially with kids, the sizes range from small right up to kids with very large feet. It really doesn’t matter what size shoes people donate.

Q. | How has turnout for the 2012 collection been progressing, and do repeat customers also add to this special form of recycling?

A. | It’s pretty steady, and as soon as the dates kick off in October, we start getting shoes. We had people who call before the drive kicks off, asking for when the shoe drive will start. Some people save their shoes until the next shoe drive. Once they know it’s over, they just save them for the next one.