Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Sajdak family collects shoes for those in need
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A lot of people donate clothes to charity, but what about shoes? One local family noticed the need for quality new and gently used shoes, and for the last 14 years, they’ve collected thousands of pairs during their annual shoe drive. Now, the tradition is being passed along to the next generation of family members.
At Stan’s Fit For Your Feet in Brookfield, it’s clear customers come first. It’s the kind of full-service shoe store where you can still get your foot measured by a professional.
“We really make sure the shoe is what you need it to be for, so looking good, feeling good,” said Andy Sajdak.
Sajdak has seen it his whole life.
“We were always involved, so it might have been doing stock work or stocking treats for the kids or whatever it may be,” he remembered. “But we kind of grew up around it all the time.”
His family has been in the business for 70 years and they have multiple locations across the Milwaukee area. Growing up, Sajdak learned the shoe business, but he also learned another lesson, too.
“From Grandpa Stan, who started this, he's always instilled in us -- my dad and through our family, how it is so important to give back to the community you're a part of,” Sajdak said.
He’s part of the next generation of the Sajdak family paying it forward through their annual Share-A-Pair campaign.
“I work with my dad and my three other siblings, all making this happen,” Sajdak said.
Right now, there are shoe collection bins in all of their stores. Every year, the family collects more than 25,000 pairs of shoes. They’re new and gently used shoes that will eventually end up at places such as Father Gene’s Help Center on National Ave. Father Gene’s has been providing clothes to those who need them for 50 years.
“People call in their order, tell us all of their sizing and what items they're looking for, and then our volunteers, who are super generous, go around the center and create these beautiful boxes,” explained executive director, Jessica Luebbering.
Luebbering said the Share-A-Pair campaign allows Father Gene’s to provide clients with shoes all year round. It’s something they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.
“It's very dignifying to be able to say, I like this,” she said. “I'm excited about what I'm wearing and this is how I want to represent myself to the world.”
Stan’s Fit For Your Feet also stores the shoes in one of its warehouses, and then delivers them to charities when they need them.
“We don't even have to come pick them up,” Luebbering said. “They are so generous. They'll deliver them to us.”
Shoes that can’t be used locally are taken further abroad. Members of the Sajdak family have traveled to places such as Guatemala through the Soles4Souls program to deliver shoes.
“It's something that people don't usually think about, but we take for granted that we have a pair of shoes, and some people can't get that,” Sajdak said.
The Share-A-Pair campaign runs through the month of February at all Stan’s Fit For Your Feet locations. They partner with multiple charities in Milwaukee. It’s a tradition Sajdak is happy to carry on.
“It's something that we believe and something we know so well,” he said. “So to be able to connect shoes with the mission to help the community is a natural confluence of how that works.”
You can also donate new socks, along with the shoes. Anyone who donates will also get $10 off their next purchase at Stan’s. For more information, locations and the charities that benefit from the campaign, just visit https://www.stansfootwear.com/.
If you’d like to nominate someone for Natalie’s Everyday Heroes, send Natalie an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.