NAPLES — Nearly 1,200 pairs of knock-off Nike shoes are heading to the feet of earthquake victims in Haiti.
Former Fort Myers service station owner Hathum Ayesh was arrested in October 2008 for selling the illegal trademarked goods from his Citgo store near the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and I-75. Police confiscated the shoes with purses, wallets, watches, DVDs, compact discs, guns and illegal narcotics. The criminal case was resolved in court but the shoes remained in Fort Myers Police storage until Friday afternoon.
Criminal law attorney Peter Aiken said his client, Ayesh, wanted the shoes to go to a good cause instead of being destroyed. He said he filed a motion in court with a letter from Nike releasing the shoes and a letter from Naples-based Hope for Haiti guaranteeing their delivery to Haiti.
“Sometimes, something good comes out of something bad. We’ve been trying for two years to get the police department to do something with these shoes,” Aiken said.
The judge granted the request and by Friday afternoon Aiken was again representing his client by helping load the shoes onto a truck heading to Hope for Haiti’s office.
“He asked that if he could get the shoes released, could we get them to Haiti? I told him absolutely,” said Hope for Haiti office manager Jennifer Lopez.
Hope for Haiti volunteers packed the shoes Friday night to be added to a shipment leaving Feb. 4 for the earthquake-ravaged nation. Some pairs became mismatched en route to the charity’s office, which volunteer Dr. Steven Shukan said wasn’t necessarily a problem.
“We thought ‘what we are going to do with all the single shoes.’ Then we realized there is going to be a lot of people that need a single shoe,” said Shukan.
The shoes will accompany the first of two planned DC-10 air shipments from the charity, each of which holds enough goods to fill five to six semi-tractor trailers. The organization is still raising monetary donations to pay for the flights to the Caribbean island.
“This was a great and unexpected donation. We are not going to turn away anything but we definitely need money to help ship these 1,200 pairs of shoes over there,” said Lopez.
To reach Hope for Haiti: email@example.com or (239) 434-7183.