Dinking Divas Shoe Drive a Smashing Success

Dinking Divas and donated shoes

Jerry Fay

On May 16 the Dinking Divas of SaddleBrooke Ranch sponsored a shoe drive to provide shoes for the homeless in the Tucson region. Members of the Dinking Divas accepted donations at the SaddleBrooke Ranch Pickleball Courts between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. They were overwhelmed by the response, and 472 pairs of men’s and women’s shoes were donated. Mother Diva, Deborah Witten, who led the drive, and the team of Divas who sorted and bagged the shoes, said, “We exceeded our expectations and want to thank all the SaddleBrooke Ranch residents who contributed shoes and of course all the Divas who helped prepare the shoes for distribution. Shoes are one of the most-needed items for the homeless, and the following programs have indicated that the demand always exceeds the availability.”

The original plan was to take all the shoes collected to the Gospel Rescue Mission Shelter program, located on a collaborative campus where more than 30 social service organizations work together to holistically address mental, physical, and spiritual issues to move individuals from homelessness to wholeness. However, because of the number of shoes donated, other homeless programs also received shoes. These other programs included:

* The Salvation Army Hospitality House, which is open 24/7, providing emergency shelter for those in need. It has a 100-bed facility with separate accommodations for men and women, and two family apartments.

* The Z Mansion in downtown Tucson, where a weekly Sunday brunch and brown bag lunch is provided to more than 200 homeless people.

* The Casa Maria Soup Kitchen, a Catholic worker house, feeding more than 700 people daily.

* Sister Jose Women’s Center, dedicated to the care of women experiencing homelessness in a welcoming and safe environment.

The shoes were distributed through SaddleBrooke Shoes for the Homeless program, established in 2018. This program has now distributed more than 3,000 pairs of shoes to the homeless in the Tucson area. In addition to the SaddleBrooke Ranch pickleball collection, bins to collect donations can be found year-round at the SaddleBrooke pickleball courts and the SaddleBrooke tennis center.

Tennis Shoes for the Homeless was recently recognized by Ben’s Bells for its program that provides gently used tennis shoes for the homeless in the Tucson region. The mission of Ben’s Bells is to inspire people to practice kindness as a way of life and create a ripple effect of kindness throughout communities.