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GUILDERLAND: A step in the right direction

O'Neill, a Delaware Lions Club member, picks up the shoes at a donated storage room at Stuyvesant Plaza, where local Lions Club volunteers pack up his trailer for the long ride.

Sundling said O'Neill made two trips with his trailer last year.

He distributes the shoes to five different churches in Appalachia, which then distribute them to the people in need.

"Within a week they are gone," Sundling said.

Thomas Kearns, who does advertising for The Delmar Bootery, spoke highly of O'Neill, saying he has volunteered many years with Shoes for the Shoeless and other charities.

"He is a good friend of mine," said Kearns.

Hundreds of hours are spent preparing the shoes to go, Sundling said.

She said one thing that makes the volunteers' job very difficult is when people just throw old shoes into bags.

"What we really need them to do is to look at them first to make sure they are wearable," she said. "I've had shoes that were mildewed or had holes in them, and I would not let a dog wear them."

Sundling said people who would like to donate their shoes should tie the shoes together (if they have laces) and rubber band them heel-to-toe. It takes up the least amount of space in the boxes, she said.

"If they have a large amount of shoes, they can put them in a large box and mark how many are in it. That would literally save us days and days and days of work," she said.

Sundling said all the effort of collecting and distributing is worth it.

"We need people to have clothing, food and shelter here in this country. We should do our share here," Sundling said. "We should do more to help."

The 2007 Shoes for the Shoeless campaign runs until Thursday, Nov. 15.

People can drop by The Delmar Bootery in Stuyvesant Plaza to donate wearable shoes for those in need.""

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