Local nonprofits collect shoes for military families

Dozens of active duty military, veterans and their family members will be walking in style thanks to a partnership between Support Our Soldiers Freedom Inc. and Midwest Veterans Closet, two Lake County nonprofit organizations.

Support our Soldiers Freedom Inc. collected more than 100 pairs of fitness shoes during a shoe drive at Essence Pilates in Deerfield and brought them to Midwest Veterans Closet in North Chicago for distribution. Donations ranged from "cool kicks" for kids to high-quality running shoes for adults.

"We are so grateful to S.O.S. Freedom for helping us fill our shoe rack," Midwest Veterans Closet President Mary Carmody said.

"Shoes are one of the most needed donations," she said. "I know they will go quickly."

Marilee Papale Shipman, S.O.S. Freedom director and Essence Pilates owner, spearheaded the shoe drive.

"Shoes are one of those necessities that many of us take for granted," Papale Shipman said. "Many veterans and armed forces members can't afford to buy a new pair of shoes, or even a used pair. Imagine if they need shoes for an entire family."

S.O.S. Freedom provides financial support for expenses not covered by military benefits, including household payments, repairs and modifications; transportation and automotive repairs; urgent and critical health care.

Midwest Veterans Closet provides free clothing, household items, furniture, food pantry, housing as available, employment assistance, drop-in center and dignity to military heroes.

For more information on S.O.S. Freedom, go to For more information on Midwest Veterans Closet, go to

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