Carmel Valley Stroller Strides members help others globally through large donation to ‘Donate Your Old Shoes’

By Kelley Carlson

Stroller Strides’ Carmel Valley branch has found a natural way to tie-in exercise and charity work.

Members are collecting pairs of gently used footwear and giving them to the nonprofit Donate Your Old Shoes. In turn, the locally based organization — which collects shoes from people all around the globe — will send them to adults and children in countries such as Nicaragua, the Philippines, Guinea, Liberia and Togo.

Anyone can drop off shoes between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at Ashley Falls Park, 13030 Ashley Falls Drive, San Diego, 92130. The collection boxes are located next to the Stroller Strides attendance sheets.

Joanna Shing organized the shoe drive on behalf of the Carmel Valley Stroller Strides fitness program, in which approximately 40 moms with their babies participate in power walking and strength and body toning exercises several times a week.

Shing, who has been a Carmel Valley Stroller Strides member for about a year, first learned about Donate Your Old Shoes after reading about the organization in this newspaper (Dec. 8, 2011) and thought that it would be a great idea to help.

She noted that most of the moms involved in Stroller Strides usually switched their running sneakers after six months of use, and that the children outgrew their shoes quickly.

“I loved that Donate Your Old Shoes was started by a Carmel Valley family (Philip and Kimberly Cleary),” Shing said.

Because Kimberly Cleary is also a mom, Shing believed that the women in Stroller Strides would be able to relate.

Furthermore, Shing said she was motivated to show her 16-month-old daughter that there is more to life than shopping and cleaning.

“There’s a lot of fun in life, but there is also a lot of joy in giving back to people who need help,” she said. “Maybe she’s still too young to understand, but I thought it would be important to show her.”

After contacting Cleary and obtaining collection boxes, Shing printed fliers to distribute and sent e-mails to other moms advertising Stroller Strides’ efforts.

The response has been great, Shing said — in fact, the program has exceeded its initial goal of 100 pairs of shoes.

Stroller Strides gave 110 pairs to Donate Your Old Shoes the weekend of Feb. 4 and 5, and Shing said the shoes keep coming in.

“It’s so easy to feel like when you’re trying to do something by yourself, it’s going nowhere, but when you come together (with other people), you can make things happen,” she said.

“I think it’s great (that we’re doing this),” added Autumn Bonner, Carmel Valley Stroller Strides instructor. “When Joanna suggested this, I thought it was perfect — it fit in (with what we do).”

Besides fitness, the Stroller Strides company — founded by San Elijo Hills resident Lisa Druxman — provides assistance to communities through its “Moms with a Mission” program, giving back to children, families and the environment. It has raised money and educated the public on behalf of Breast Cancer Fund, March of Dimes and Healthy Child Healthy World.

Currently, the Carmel Valley branch is the only Stroller Strides program that has partnered with Donate Your Old Shoes, although Shing said they would love to see other locations within the San Diego franchise make a similar effort to collect footwear. There are 18 branches throughout the county.

“It’s wonderful what the Clearys are doing,” Shing said.

“We’re happy to reach out to the community.”

For more information about the Carmel Valley Stroller Strides or its shoe donation efforts, e-mail For additional information about Donate Your Old Shoes, go to