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The Villages
Saturday, May 8, 2021

Friends of SoZo Kids launches Undies & Sneakers Drive for children in forest

Friends of SoZo Kids Inc. in The Villages is launching its annual Undies & Sneakers Drive.

Members of the non-profit charity hope to ensure that more than 1,500 children living in poverty in the Ocala National Forest will look great and feel good for the start of the new school year.

Shoe tent 1
Members of Friends of SoZo Kids distribute much-needed sneakers at a recent back-to-school bash.

The goal is to receive donations of at least 1,000 packs of underwear, 800 sports bras and 1,000 pairs of new sneakers. These will be distributed to children at the annual SoZo Kids Back-to-School Bash in August.

Donations of new packaged underwear and new sneakers will be accepted between 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, May 8, at two drive-thru locations:

  • Rohan Rec Center parking lot, 850 Kristine Way in The Villages; and
  • Compass Storage, 4477 E. Co. Rd. 466 in Oxford.

Mindy Pappas, of Del Webb Spruce Creek, is overseeing the Undies portion of the collection. It is her first time working on the project.

“Last year, Friends of SoZo Kids collected 1,000 packs of underwear, 400 sports bras and hundreds of pairs of socks. We want to exceed that goal this year,” Mindy said.

Karen Kretschmann, Village of Hillsborough, is overseeing the Sneakers portion of the collection. Last year, more than 1,000 pairs of sneakers were collected at the annual event.

“The children need sturdy shoes that will withstand the rugged environment of the forest. It’s better if people buy one quality pair of sneakers rather than three pairs of inexpensive shoes,” Kretschmann said. “If possible, we’d like shoes in their original shoe boxes, which will make storage and transport easier.”

Karen with shoes
Friends of SoZo Kids is collecting underwear and sneakers for children living in the Ocala National Forest.

Packs of unopened underwear are needed for boys and girls, ages 5-17, especially knit boxer shorts (no “tighty-whities”) for boys and young men, and boy-cut, hipster or boxer-style underwear for girls and young women. Sports bras are needed in sizes trainer to XXL. Packs of socks are needed in all sizes for girls and young women. No socks are needed at this time for boys and men, thanks to a generous donation from Bombas.

All sizes of sneakers are needed, especially little kid sizes 10-13, youth sizes 2-5 and adult sizes 7-11. Downloadable shopping lists for both underwear and sneakers are available online at FriendsOfSoZoKids.com.

“We hope neighborhoods, churches and other groups will collect undies and sneakers from their members, as they have done in the past,” said LaRae Donnellan, Friends of SoZo Kids events committee chair. “We also can use cash donations if people would prefer we do the shopping for them.”

Cash donations can be written to “Friends of SoZo Kids” and mailed to Pam DiPetrillo (Treasurer), 3741 Barrel Loop, The Villages, FL 32163. Donations also can be made online at FriendsOfSoZoKids.com. For more information, email [email protected].

Friends of SoZo Kids Inc. is a nonprofit dedicated solely to supporting the Help Agency of the Forest Inc., a nonprofit known as SoZo Kids, which serves children living in abject poverty in the Ocala National Forest.

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