Large group of participants in front of the People's City Mission help center in 2019, for the One Day Without Shoes Drive.
Cornhusker Bank staff and members of participating businesses are pictured in front of People’s City Mission’s help center during the 2019 drive. Photo courtesy of Perry Boe.

People’s City Mission and Cornhusker Bank are hosting the 11th annual One Day Without Shoes, an event to collect new or gently used shoes for Lincoln residents with inadequate footwear. More than 115 businesses and organizations are serving as collection sites April 5 – 16.  

People have donated more than 182,000 pairs of shoes and $87,000 to People’s City Mission since the first drive in 2011.

Beneen Allen, volunteer services director at People’s City Mission, said the drive spreads awareness and advocates for the needs of People’s City Mission’s population.

“It’s almost like a bridge between us and the community and our guests. And having that bridge to allow people to find ways to contribute,” Allen said.

Allen said the Mission relies on volunteers to sort the shoes once collected. 

“We need all the help we can get. Volunteers sort and make sure they’re new or gently used shoes,” she said. 

Community Relations Director at People’s City Mission Michele Orth said members of the houseless population often do not have quality shoes.  

“We see our guests every day around here. Every day, guests that are in shoes they shouldn’t be wearing. They are huge, they are cracked and holey and the heels might be gone. The soles of them nearly gone,” she said.

Orth said this is because the impoverished population often walks long distances out of necessity; therefore, foot care is extremely important. She said families at the Mission are lucky if they have a vehicle. 

Carissa Bullock, vice president of marketing at Cornhusker Bank, organizes One Day Without Shoes every year with the help of her team. She said the partnership with People’s City Mission fell into place naturally after she visited for the first time. 

“After touring with Pastor Tom and just even having a sit-down conversation with him, I really felt compelled that this was a partnership that made absolute sense for us as a community,” Bullock said. 

Orth said the drive serves as a stress reliever for the homeless.  

“I think it takes stress off them. We see that, we see kids cry, we see moms and dads, men that may be dependent on a good pair of shoes for a job, like steel toe boots, to get that construction job. It’s more than a pair of shoes,” she said.

Orth said guests at the mission are specifically in need of athletic and youth shoes.

“Two things we don’t get a lot of but are the best donation are any kind of athletic footwear for men, women, and children, and any kind of youth or kids shoes. We don’t get enough quality kids and youth shoes. That would be highly encouraged,” Orth said. 

However, any type of footwear donation is important to the Mission’s community, according to Orth. 

“Even inexpensive flip flops can be really valuable to our guests on so many levels. You know when they’re showering here, they may want that extra protection,” Orth said. 

She said items such as inexpensive bedroom slippers are also very valuable to those staying in a shelter. 

 Orth said the event not only impacts Lincoln citizens in need of footwear but also those who donate the shoes. 

“We could all purge. We all need to simplify our life. If COVID taught us anything, it was what are the things that really are important and really matter, and what is just extra baggage. Giving some of that excess is healthy for people,” Orth said. 

Orth expects about 20,000 pairs of shoes to be donated based on previous years.

On April 23 beginning at 10 a.m. at the PCM’s Help Center, Cornhusker Bank employees will help guests shop through sections of men’s, women’s and children’s shoes.

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Four Norris High School student volunteers help to sort shoes in 2018. Photo courtesy of Perry Boe.
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Gavin (left) used his own money to buy a special pair of shoes for Montana (right) whose family were guests at the mission in 2020. Photo courtesy of Erin Rodriguez.
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Carissa Bullock helps sort collected shoes in 2018. Photo courtesy of Perry Boe.
I am a journalism major and Spanish minor at UNL, and I will graduate in the spring of 2021. I hope to travel the world after the pandemic is over (someday).