Soles of Luv spreads out with partners

BOARDMAN — Soles of Luv is spreading out this year through a partnership with two area businesses.

Collection bins for new children’s shoes and socks have been set up at Blooming Crazy in Boardman and at Key Bank in Canfield.

Soles of Luv is an organization started some years ago with a goal of keeping children’s feet warm. It began in Youngstown and has spread throughout Mahoning County and parts of Columbiana County.

“I attend St. Patrick’s Church in Youngstown,” said co-founder Cathy Crawford. “I found out through the church there were kids coming to school without socks and in worn and non-fitting shoes.”

Crwaford said she had to do something, and her close friend, Cheryl Barkett, agreed. The two founded Soles of Luv with the intent to serve the needy children attending Williamson School and South Side Academy. They quickly found out the need was much bigger than they had imagined.

“We started getting calls from other schools,” Crawford said. ‘We are now in the majority of Mahoning County school districts and parts of Columbiana County. ”

The need and the Soles of Luv charity is growing every year. In 2016, Crawford and Barkett applied for and received the 501C3 designation as a non-profit charity.

At Christmastime, new shoes, new socks and even mittens and hats are given out to needy children, but to fill the long list required more new shoes and socks. Crawford and Barkett were able to team up with Key Bank on Boardman-Canfield Road (U.S. Route 224) in Canfield and Blooming Crazy florist in Boardman on Market Street, next to the township building. Both locations have drop off bins.

The Blooming Crazy connection was a special one for Crawford. In fact, the company was looking for a way to give back.

“I knew Cathy for a long time, in fact she worked for Blooming Crazy and hired me back in 1991,” said store manager Ann Marie Velchek.

She said Soles of Luv made for a perfect team and the shoes and socks have been coming in from both employees and customers alike.

Crawford said her charity organization also chooses one family each to help by providing a nice Christmas, including the meal.

As for the children, school counselors, principals, teachers and social workers are the ones who turn in a child’s name. The parents are asked to measure the child’s foot, then volunteers from Soles of Luv will show up and fit the child. If they don’t have the right size in the donated shoes, the organization will use monetary donations to purchase the right size.

Crawford said the collection at Key Bank and Blooming Crazy will continue through the end of the month. At Blooming Crazy, Velchek said anyone who brings in new shoes or socks will get a 10 percent discount in the store and will be put into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate.

For more information on Soles of Luv, or to make a monetary donation, visit www.solesofluv.com. The site has a list of the schools Soles of Luv presently helps.

“If you could see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they receive their new shoes and socks and other gifts,” Velchek said. “They know someone really cares about them.”


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