Soles to help needy souls

When some think of natural disasters, a lack of food, clean water and safe shelter sometimes come to mind. But when Angela Edgerly thought of how she could help those affected by the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she thought of people's feet.

The Hoag Hospital nurse connected with the Nashville, Tenn.-based Soles4Souls nonprofit to help protect the needy feet of those living in dangerous, unsanitary living conditions.

Originally from England, the Hoag nurse of four years collected 2,214 pairs of shoes with the help of her colleagues over a four-week span in 2010 before travelling to Haiti with Soles4Souls in August.

Edgerly is organizing a similar shoe drive this summer. She is partnering with a Costa Mesa school and the city's Fire Department to serve as collection points where people can donate new or "gently" used shoes.

The shoes Edgerly is collecting already have a destination. They'll be travelling to Japan, Haiti and closer to home, like tornado-affected Joplin, Mo., andAlabama.

Using their own money, Angela and her husband Christopher have rented a 10-by-15-foot storage facility at Fairview Avenue and Baker Street, where the shoes bound for people in disaster-affected regions get sorted. Costa Mesa Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and a venturing crew will sort, count and box the shoes after the drive ends in July.

Once the shoes are sorted, Soles4Souls will come get them — if they acquire 20,000 pairs. If not, Edgerly has another solution.

Using donations, she will rent a U-Haul truck to drive the shoes to the nonprofit's Las Vegas location — something a fellow Hoag nurse donated money for last year.

"We have no problem doing that," Edgerly said. "It's all about making sure they get to people in need."

Davis Magnet School on Arlington Drive is one of the places Edgerly looked at when considering possible partners in the project.

In late May, Edgerly spoke with Davis' Principal Kevin Rafferty about teaming up for the shoe drive. Within six weeks of collaborating with the school, 1,018 pairs of shoes were donated by children, teachers and families, according to Edgerly.

This month, the Costa Mesa Fire Department also joined Edgerly's project. The department is receiving shoe donations through the end of July at any of the six Costa Mesa fire stations, and at the fire administration offices at City Hall.

"They're just wonderful people; it's just a neat thing we can do as a Fire Department," said spokeswoman Barbara Emrick. "I've got a big old bag of shoes in my office here."

Even in an economic downturn, Edgerly said she has found many community members eager to give to those in need.

"I've met some of the most amazing people on this journey, people who are in need themselves" Edgerly said.

Where to donate:

Costa Mesa Fire Department administration, 5th Floor, City Hall, 77 Fair Drive

Royal Palm station: 2803 Royal Palm Drive

Baker station: 800 Baker Street

Park station: 1865 Park Ave.

Placentia station: 2300 Placentia Ave.

Civic Center station: 2450 Vanguard Way

Metro station: 3350 Sakioka Drive

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