For those who need only one shoe
I was actually trying to find, on the internet, a place in Oklahoma to donate new (single) shoes to and saw this. I didn't find what I was looking for but found the information below and thought someone on here may find it useful.
The One Shoe Crew
9328 Aizenberg Circle
Elk Grove CA, 95624
Provides shoes for amputees or people who wear two different-sized shoes.
Has thousands of single, new, unused shoes available free for people who need just one shoe. Call, or send a self-addressed stamped envelope for details.
If only opposites attracted.
Then buying shoes wouldn't be such an ordeal for Mike Barr. Barr, 54, of Cartersville, Ga., was a victim of polio as a 1-year-old. The illness, he said, left his right leg "a stick" with a size 6 1/2 foot, three sizes smaller than his left foot. Every time he needs new shoes, he has had to buy two pairs, and his closet is stacked high with boxes containing the shoes he can't wear.
While no one's feet are exactly the same size, one study estimated that more than 40 million Americans have feet differing by at least one full shoe size as a result of illness -- most often diabetes -- accident or birth deformity. Another nearly 100,000 foot or leg amputees each year may need only one shoe. Most of them are looking for their "mismates," the people whose left is their right, or, well, the opposite.
Most shoe retailers do not allow customers to buy single or mismated shoes. Nordstrom is one national chain that does, but its shoes are out of the price range of many who would use the service.
A few individuals have organized national shoe exchanges over the years, but as their founders have grown older or dealt with their own health issues, they have struggled to maintain the operations. And they probably serve only a fraction of the people who need help. Now, some odd- and single-sizers hope to find their mates on the Internet.
Barr, a computer systems support specialist for the state of Georgia, thought he had found his in 1964, after a local shoe salesman arranged a meeting. But before it took place, his mate was struck by lightning and killed on a golf course.
"I've been looking for my opposite ever since," Barr said.
When he sees people limping, Barr checks out their feet and sizes them up, and sometimes approaches them. He might find a matching left or a right, but never both.
Richard Marbes, an Air Force veteran whose right leg was amputated above the hip in 1958 as a result of bone cancer, has the same problem. Marbes, 63, of Green Bay, Wis., wore a prosthesis for more than 20 years, but the cumbersome leg caused back problems. Now he uses crutches, and wears only one shoe.
About 10 years ago, Marbes turned to the One Shoe Crew, a Sacramento-based nonprofit shoe exchange established in 1986 by Georgia Hehr. Hehr, 53, maintains a database of about 4,000 people with special shoe needs. She says about a third of her clients, either because of old age or an inability to work, cannot afford to pay the $5 donation she asks for each shoe.
Marbes found a match but quickly learned that size wasn't all that mattered. Marbes' partner, from California, preferred deck shoes and sandals that were useless in Green Bay's frozen winters. Marbes' 11 1/2 shoe has proved difficult to match, so Hehr sends him individual ones as needed.
Shoe manufacturers and retailers send Hehr about 60,000 shoes a year, which she stores in a warehouse by size and type for both men and women. But most are sales samples that come in the most common sizes, making it difficult to match unusual sizes or create pairs. The shoes range from walking shoes to designer high heels. Hehr takes them all, even if they are not very practical.
"If you only have one leg, you're not going to risk it with a four-inch-high stiletto," Hehr said.
Another service, National Odd Shoe Exchange http://www.oddshoe.org/contribute.shtml in Chandler, Ariz, was founded in 1943 and once maintained a database of 17,000 people. But Jeanne Sallman, who took over the business from the founder, Ruth Feldman, recently retired to Iowa, and calls to the shoe exchange were not returned.
Jody van Beek, 40, who once volunteered for Sallman, recently opened the If the Shoe Fits Foundation from her home in Riverton, Utah. And Hehr, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, is looking for a successor.
Janet Morrissey, 53, executive director of the Portland, Ore., chapter of the Amputee Coalition of America, runs her own exchange for about 75 clients. Morrissey said she had no luck with the One Shoe Crew.
But Pam Gable did. About 10 years ago, Gable, 52, of Fairfax, Va., who was born with a deformed left foot, was matched with Marcia Huff of Vacaville, Calif. Gable wears a 5 1/2 left shoe, 7 1/2 right. Huff wears the opposite.
Close in age and lifestyle, the two women exchange about 10 pairs of shoes each year. In addition they have exchanged photos, e-mail and occasional Christmas gifts, though they have never met.
"Would it be too corny to say she's my sole-mate?" Gable asked. "I feel a lot of affection for Marcia, since I know the kinds of things she's had to go through."
Barr has posted his condition on several online message boards, including the Yahoo! Amputee-Shoe-Exchange. So far, he's had no more luck online than off.
"On the Internet," he says, "my post-it note is out there where millions of people can see it," Barr said. "I'm still hopeful that one day someone will call me and say, 'Mike, we need to talk.'"
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