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Donate shoes to give holiday cheer

This holiday season, your shoes can make a difference.

No matter the size, style or color, the Women of the Moose Chapter 966 will collect them to raise money and provide for families this Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Portsmouth resident Brooke Archambeau, the senior regent of the Women of the Moose Chapter, organized the drive six weeks ago after donations and disaster relief spending this year stretched resources thin, she said.

“Our budget was hit very hard because of hurricanes that affected the U.S.,” she said. “Every time we’re called to help with things like that, we do, so we had to come up with a fundraiser to help out.”

The only criteria for the shoes are that they need to have intact soles and no holes. They will be donated to Funds2Orgs, an organization that pays nonprofits for shoes and sends them or products made out of them to microentrepreneurs in developing countries.

“They’re recycling materials to start businesses and provide for their families in those developing nations,” Archambeau said.

She said her organization started with a goal of 2,500 shoes and has collected 1,500 as of Friday.

“I still have a room full of them in my house that haven’t been processed yet,” she said. “Every day someone is bringing shoes, which is awesome.”

The money her chapter raises will support their annual partnership with the Salvation Army and others to supply 20 families with complete Thanksgiving meals — plus more for leftovers — and 20 additional families for Christmas, she said.

Furthermore, 20 children will get gifts at a Christmas party held at their lodge, and Santa Claus will also let children pick gifts for family members.

She said the best part is seeing the look on the faces of each child, some of whom may have been told that there weren’t any gifts for them this year.

“You can tell that they’re excited for Christmas again, and that just warms our hearts,” she said. “Sometimes parents leave in tears, and we always leave in tears, because it makes you feel like you’re making a difference.”

The chapter will accept donations up to Nov. 30. Suffolk residents can donate at Massage Envy, located at 7386 Harbour Towne Parkway. Search “WOTM 966 Shoe Drive for the Holidays” on Facebook for more information.