Mission seeking out soles

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Carolyn Rubio with the Lighthouse Mission organizes the shoes already donated during the mission’s third annual shoe drive.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Each year before the school year starts, the demand for new shoes depletes the Lighthouse Mission’s stores.

To restore their ability to help those in need of shoes, the mission is running its third annual shoe drive.

Jeri Gomez, who runs the mission with her husband Richard Gomez, said they donate about 1,000 pairs of shoes a month to those in need.

“They are one of those things we can’t keep. They fly off the shelves,” Gomez said.

Gomez said the drive will run through October. The mission is looking for every type of shoe in decent condition. Gomez said Clovis families are struggling to buy even the basics.

“People can’t afford shoes. Shoes are expensive. With our economy, they can’t afford clothes or a decent pair of shoes,” Gomez said.

Gomez said children come into the mission with toes hanging out of their shoes or wearing shoes that are sizes too small.

“Wearing shoes that don’t fit can be very uncomfortable. It’s not good for children,” she said.

One family stuck in staffer Carolyn Rubio’s mind.

Before the school year started, a church called the mission and told Rubio that both parents in a family had been laid off and they couldn’t afford new school clothes and shoes for their son.

“We brought them over and we found some shoes for the boy that were about a size and a half too big. Then we found a pair that fit perfectly that he thought were cool,” Rubio remembered.

The boys parents wanted him to get the shoes that provided room to grow. But the boy wanted the shoes that fit. They were cooler.

“And he sat there on the floor going ‘I want these ones, I want these ones with his big eyes and I didn’t say anything but I wanted them to let him have those. Finally, they did. He was so happy,” Rubio said. “A lot of people are blessed here.”

Rubio runs the clothing section of the mission’s donation store. She said she’s excited to see the shoe shelves be refilled.

Shoes can be brought to the Lighthouse Mission on L. Casillas Boulevard.