Standing among pairs of shoes that cover the entire dance floor of the Sun-Trapp, volunteers who collected them handed them over to leaders of the Volunteers of America Homeless Youth Resource Center. In all, the Sun Trapp and volunteers collected 387 pairs of shoes, 15 jackets, and 26 pairs of winter socks.
“Getting a donation of this size, especially of good quality shoes, is a huge deal for us,” said Kierra Cable of the VOA. “Shoes are not something we get a lot of, especially in good condition. This is going to last us a really long time.”
“At VOA Utah, we serve over 5,000 people annually. I would say the Youth Resource Center sees about 900 to a thousand youth a year,” Cable said. “We are on track to see that many youths this year.”
The Sun-Trapp, along with people who volunteered, worked to gather shoes for the past few months, asking bar patrons and others to donate.
“There is a huge part of the homeless population that wears no shoes,” said Micheal Repp of the Sun Trapp.
“Everybody should have shoes,” Teinamarrie Scuderi of Teinamarrie’s Treasures said. “Everybody should be able to have a nice pair of shoes to keep their feet warm and to keep their feet healthy.”
Her husband, Christopher Scuderi of Universal Heart Ministry also helped with the project.
“This seemed like something I could do,” said Mary Olsen of Utah Key Real Estate. “I know I had a lot of shoes and I don’t really wear all of them, so if nothing else, I was going to do that when I read Teinamarrie’s post on Facebook. Then I posted it on our NextDoor app and the neighbors really came through. I posted it to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors and had Realtors bringing shoes. So, it was just asking, and everyone was giving.”
“We were able to branch this out to the larger community, and maybe a population of individuals who maybe weren’t as knowledgable about our homeless population,” Repp said.
“The Homeless Youth Resource Center is so integral because this is an integral time to provide aid,” Cable said since getting resources once someone reaches adulthood is so much harder.
“Some companies that have donated to us over the years are not being able to give as much this year because their employees aren’t coming into the office to donate,” Cable said. “One company brought in a big box this year and we were like, ‘That’s great!’ but they said in previous years they’ve brought in two truckloads of items.”
Families being forced to stay at home because of the pandemic, representatives of the VOA say that there has actually been an increase in the need for services as family issues are magnified.
“Now we are seeing a need for our services more than ever,” Cable said.
For more information on the Homeless Youth Resource Center, go to voaut.org