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Photo courtesy of A Walk in My Shoes San Antonio Facebook page

At first glance, it may seem a bit odd or contradictory for a barefoot runner to get behind a charity that is all about giving away shoes.

It all boils down to CHOICE. I am a barefoot runner because I want to be, not because I have to be. If I were unable to afford my own shoes, I can honestly say I would probably have a VERY different opinion of running shod, or even simply walking around in shoes.

While I may choose to shun shoes, I can see the other side of the fence. It isn’t a far jump to say that life would be near impossible if “no shoes, no shirt, no service” was more a bar to me than simply putting my shoes back on. For some, it is a true bar to them, and that’s where Eric and his charity “A WALK IN MY SHOES” comes in. If you don’t have something, and you need it, the void caused by that need can consume and define you.

I initially discovered “A WALK IN MY SHOES” San Antonio via a facebook request to my personal page. I had received one of those “you might like” notifications for the “A WALK IN MY SHOES” page, and checked it out. I hit the “like” button, as I do with 90% of charities, and went about my business. Later on in the day, I was drawn back to the page, I think because of the “grass roots, homegrown feeling”. Here is a charity that was started by two young people in my community, that was actually making a difference!

I contacted one of the founders listed on the page, Eric Castillo, and asked him if he would be willing to do an interview via e-mail for an article to be published on muddyJ.com. He responded positively, and I sent him a list of questions.

Photo courtesy of A Walk in My Shoes San Antonio Facebook page

Eric, who is a very busy man, (being a student athlete in addition and charity founder) somehow found the time to sit and write up a little bit for me to publish:

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“A WALK IN MY SHOES”
San Antonio

“A Walk In My Shoes” is a charity, whose sole purpose is to distribute donated shoes to those less fortunate so that they may get back on their feet, literally. This charity was the mastermind of founder, Eric Castillo, and his girlfriend, co-founder, Jessica Renee. Upon seeing homeless people without shoes, the discussion began to flow on the unmistakable need of some people in the community. With the realization that both had more shoes than they needed, it was evident that most people had the same reality and something needed to be done for those that didn’t.

Looking at the abundance of shoes in a closet, one is left to decipher which pair best fits what they are wearing. It is a luxury that not everybody has. Most use shoes for fashion and fail to see the importance of the other attributes they contribute. Shoes are used for ease and comfort as well as protection from the elements below you. Because the foot is so vulnerable to environmental hazards like sharp objects or the hot ground, shoes are necessary.

Knowing that unwanted shoes are easy to come by, Eric and Jessica realized that with a demand as evident as this, the supply could come easy. It began with a simple request on Facebook. Within the first week the response was overwhelming. The initial goal upon founding the charity on July 1st was 5000 pairs. Within 2 weeks, over 500 pairs were collected and within 60 days, over 2500 pair.

New and slightly used shoes of any gender, size, and style are accepted. “A Walk In My Shoes” donates these shoes to organizations such as The Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio, Dress for Success, Haven for Hope, Battered Women’s Shelter, and absolutely anybody that is in need. Local businesses have also contributed to the charity’s success by collecting shoes at their location. The main drop off location is at 7538 Green Glen in San Antonio, 78255. When necessary, pick-ups are also available. With so many shoes at hand, volunteers are always welcome, as well as monetary donations to assist in what is needed to help charity run smoothly and effectively.

“A Walk In My Shoes” is the first charity that this couple has ever been a part of. It was never imagined how rewarding it would be to be able to impact in a life that is in need. All with the donation of a pair of shoes on their feet. The charity has been recognized by Fox 29, WOAI, KENS, Express News, and La Prensa. With Eric being a Student Athlete and the University of Incarnate Word and Jessica being a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, the voice of their mission is also heard in their surroundings, as well as with their family and friends. EVERY pair makes a Difference and the Difference has Definitely been made.

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For more information on how you can help or where to donate shoes contact Eric Castillo at (210) 616-6212, or via facebook here

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