BARSTOW — Nick Benson Sr. is in the midst of serious competition with the San Diego area.
Benson and the rest of the High Desert were challenged by his buddies, who sponsor the San Diego Harley-Davidson dealership and Pro Train Dog Trainers, to see who would collect more pairs of old shoes to be donated to a Florida-based nonprofit organization.
Benson said he has collected approximately 1,500 shoes and the last day to donate old shoes is Nov. 9.
“San Diego is a larger area, and I really feel if the High Desert really goes to town, we could exceed last year’s amount of total shoes collected,” Benson said. “So far we have roughly 1,500 shoes and I know if our communities take an interest in the cause like last year, we can get it done.”
Benson says he was challenged because he was responsible for the High Desert coming together to contribute approximately 6,000 pairs of used shoes to Illusion Cycles, in Westminster, in their quest to gather 25,000 last year. If the goal was met, the nonprofit organization would have given the American Solider Network $10,000 to benefit the Wounded Warrior Battalion of Camp Pendleton. Florida-based Soles 4 Souls refurbishes old shoes for people in impoverished countries.
The goal was short about 12,000 pairs of shoes, but the American Soldier Network still received a check based on the total weight of the amount of shoes collected.
“This drive helps Third-World countries and more importantly our veterans,” Benson said. “There is no cheaper way to show our troops that we care about them than to clean out your closets and donate your old shoes. This is now a national event so there is a lot of competition, but I know that High Desert can be No. 1 again this year.”
According to Benson, Annie Nelson, founder of the American Soldier Network, has reached out to various of her friends from across the country. Benson said he heard thousands of old shoes are being collected in the east. He is sure the 25,000 goal will be met, but is seeking a large portion of the shoes to come from the High Desert.
Last year, students from Quail Valley Middle School in Phelan joined the effort and collected 1,708 pairs of old shoes.
Benson had several shoe drop-off points throughout the High Desert last year, including the Victorville Harley-Davidson dealership. The motorcycle dealership is back on board this year, along with David’s Automotive Repair in Hesperia. The motorcycle dealership also donated a truck and trailer to deliver all the shoes they collected to Benson’s store in Barstow.
Benson has also set up multiple drop off points in the Barstow area:
— Nick’s Computer Works, 25434 Main St., Barstow
— Barstow Senior Center, 555 Melissa Ave., Barstow
— Barstow Senior Thrift Store, 907 E. Williams St., Barstow
— Barstow Motorcycle Center, 2380 W. Main St., Barstow
Jose Quintero can be reached at 760-256-4122 or JQuintero@DesertDispatch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @DD_JQuintero.
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