On a Wednesday, Samaritan’s Feet got contacted by someone in the San Francisco area wanting to donate 4,000 pairs of new shoes they had. Just two days later, another individual, Merilee, also in the San Francisco area, contacted Samaritan’s Feet in need of shoes.

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It was perfect timing and a perfect connection.

When Merilee did a quick Google search to find nonprofits that distribute shoes, she had no idea that merely two days before someone just down the road had done almost the same thing.

“I volunteer serving several organizations. Hamilton Families aims to end homelessness for families in San Francisco and had recently mentioned to me that they have been struggling to find shoes for their families,” said Merilee.

Hamilton Families is a nonprofit organization that began in 1985 and is the leading service provider to families experiencing homelessness in San Francisco. In an effort to help find shoes for them, Merilee began reaching out to manufacturers with no luck. She then started searching for nonprofits, came across Samaritan’s Feet, and sent a quick message sharing about the need for shoes for these families. To her surprise, there was an answer already.

“The connection was perfect and shows there is karma in the world as Steve, Samaritan’s Feet Warehouse Manager, had access to thousands of donated shoes in Walnut Creek—only about 35 minutes away from San Francisco! While he had far more shoes than the few hundred Hamilton Families needed, I have worked for around nine years as a volunteer serving a lot of different shelters, so I knew I could find worthy homes for as many shoes as I could get,” said Merilee.

Steve made the connection between Merilee and the donor of shoes (who wishes to remain anonymous), both excited about the quick, chance encounter. After some paperwork and working out just a few logistics, the shoes were in the hands of Merilee and her team in San Francisco.

“In general, these shoes will be used for back to school prep for our families. These unhoused, living-in-shelters, and low-income families struggle to cover the essentials they and their families need. Shoes, as you know, are so expensive and it can be really hard to find the right size in the used clothing bins and stores. So, these shoes are going to be a huge relief to so many families in need in San Francisco,” said Merilee.  

Merilee and her team spent some time organizing and prepping the shoes. They organized by size and amounts so that they could be distributed to different centers and shelter partners, which all serve families in need across the city.

“Having seen first-hand the impact of giving families and kids quality things, like these shoes, I can confidently say the kids will be overjoyed and walk a little taller. They will go into the new school year feeling like they too have what they need to succeed, that they are worth having nice things, and that they too fit in with their peers. While it may seem like a small thing, it’s huge,” said Merilee. “And on top of that, parents will feel massive relief at being able to provide for their kids.”

At least seven different organizations across the San Francisco area will benefit from this generous donation of shoes over the coming weeks. All because of two simple emails.