By JOSE QUINTERO
BARSTOW • Local business owner Nick Benson Sr. is asking High Desert residents to donate all their old and worn out shoes for the benefit of needy people across the globe.
Benson said he met Rusty Coones at a recent charity event. Coones portrays the character Quinn on the television series "Sons of Anarchy" and is the owner of Illusion Cycles located in Westminster.
Coones' wife, Katherine "K.O." Coones, is helping a friend collect 25,000 pairs of old shoes that will be donated to a nonprofit Florida-based organization. According to K.O., the organization repairs and distributes the shoes to impoverished villages and communities in third-world countries.
After talking to the couple, Benson said he wanted to help the couple and the cause by collecting 1,000 pairs of old shoes from the High Desert.
Benson is on the board of directors for the American Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education of California. Benson describes ABATE as a non-partisan motorcyclist rights organization that has been fighting for bikers' rights for more than 30 years.
"I am asking that anyone out there that has even one pair of worn out shoes, no matter how bad of shape they are in, to drop them into one of our collections boxes that were donated by our local Home Depot," Benson said. "I will keep picking up the shoes and bundling them and on Oct. 24, I will drive them in my truck, and hopefully my trailer, with all of the shoes to Westminster."
If Illusion Cycles Westminster receives 25,000 shoes, a check for $10,000 will be presented to the American Soldier Network to aid the ninth annual Holiday Christmas Drive at the San Diego Naval Medical Center, Coones said. The campaign aids the Wounded Warrior Battalion of Camp Pendleton during the holidays, Coones added.
"Our wounded soldiers have given so much to us, I felt honored to be able to help them back in this very small way," Benson said.
Benson has set up five designated shoe drop-off points in Barstow and one in Victorville.
• Nick's Computer Work, 25434 West Main St.
• Barstow Motorcycle Center, 2380 West Main St.
• Barstow Senior Center, 555 Melissa Ave.
• Barstow Senior Thrift Store, 907 East Williams St.
• All Recycling, 931 West Main St.
• Harley Davidson of Victorville, 14522 Valley Center Drive.
Benson's deadline is Oct. 24, while Illusion Cycles is accepting shoes until Oct. 27.
"We want to get a formal count of how many shoes we have on that day (at Illusion Cycles)," Coones said. "We are inviting everybody to come to the shop when we count and bag the shoes. As of (Friday afternoon), I have roughly 1,200 pairs of shoes in my possession and about 500 that I haven't even gotten to."- See more at: http://www.desertdispatch.com/article/20131004/NEWS/310049990/0/SEARCH#sthash.znU3i9Vw.dpuf