Guest commentary / Laces of Love: Thanks for helping with our 'sole' mission

Back row, from left, Coach Patti Spicer and Laces of Love founder Jeanne Nara-Nealon with the Pine Ridge Middle School volleyball team and some of the 40 pairs of sneakers they have donated. Photo by Jeanne Nara-Nealon

Back row, from left, Coach Patti Spicer and Laces of Love founder Jeanne Nara-Nealon with the Pine Ridge Middle School volleyball team and some of the 40 pairs of sneakers they have donated. Photo by Jeanne Nara-Nealon

Over the past five years a little charity called Laces of Love has provided more than 23,000 pairs of new shoes to schoolchildren in Collier and Lee counties.

Giving a new pair of shoes to a needy child provides them with confidence to walk into their school with a smile — ready to learn! This would not be possible without the many wonderful supporters and generous donations we have received over the years. They make sure our Back to School Sneaker Drive is a success.

All monetary donations go directly for shoes.

We also have a small chapter called Cleats Keep Kids Off the Streets, and we would like to thank all the many families, coaches and Optimist Club members who have donated and recycled new and used cleats. Many local student-athletes have benefited from your support. Thank you for cleaning out your garage bins and donating!

Recently, Immokalee High School teacher Natasha Keiser said, “There were girls on my track team with a dream to run. They showed up for practice in broken, old, worn tennis shoes, no laces on the shoes, and a few girls were going to run in their socks and bare feet. When Laces of Love provided them with new tennis shoes, their dreams came true.”

On behalf of our board of directors, we would like to thank the community of Naples, Nike Outlet Stores, Snyderman’s Shoes of Naples, Rotary, Naples Orchid Society, the many golf communities of Naples, the church organizations and youth groups, and First National Bank of the Gulf Coast for your dedication and support for our mission.

We are working together to help the children.

Yes, you are part of every needy child wearing a Laces of Love shoe, skipping to school, leaping down the street, running across the football field at Golden Gate High School or walking into the classroom at Shadowlawn Elementary with a smile and wearing new shoes.

A special thank you is extended to other students holding shoe drives for Laces of Love, including the Barron Collier High School band and Pine Ridge Middle School girls volleyball team.

Many children receive new shoes and say, “Can I keep them?” “Are these shoes really mine?” “This feels like Christmas!”

One little girl wrote us, “Thank you, Laces of Love, from the bottom of my heart to the soles of my feet. I love my new shoes! They are perfect.”

Thank you for giving to a needy child!

For more information, contact Patti Spicer at Pine Ridge Middle School, 377-5000, or Nara-Nealon at 591-1172 or visit the www.lacesoflove.org Web site.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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