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Montreal Sneaker Drive organizer collects shoes for charity, in honour of late friend

Global News logo Global News 2020-11-08 Olivia O'Malley
a man standing in front of a sign: Organizer Avesta Shadpey in front of the Sneaker Drive truck on Sunday. © Courtesy: Boris Halas Organizer Avesta Shadpey in front of the Sneaker Drive truck on Sunday.

Montrealers have been busy cleaning out their shoe racks, finding gently worn shoes they could donate in preparation for Sunday's Sneaker Drive.

Avesta Shadpey, organizer of the Sneaker Drive, and his two friends spent the day driving around Montreal in a small truck picking up those shoes for the third edition of the charity initiative.

"Anything gently used, new is awesome, but boots are super important, winter's coming and our winters are really crazy, so any footwear really is what the sneaker drive is all about," he said.

Read more: West Island man funding cancer charities one can at a time

The event is in honour of Shadpey's friend Ryan France.

France's parents organized the first shoe drive at their son's funeral to commemorate his love for sneakers and fashion.

"It was a great initiative that they started, that brought us all together," said Shadpey. "I just wanted to give it its own light and life."

Each pair of shoes is going to two charities: Centre Social D'Aide Aux Immigrants and Go Jeunesse.

For Shadpey, it was important the event go on even in a pandemic so they could support people who need it most.

"I think that its unfair to deprive these people the privilege of receiving these donations because of a situation that's out of everyone's control."

The event is typically held on one whirlwind day at Fleek Market Montreal, a local buying and selling flea market.

Read more: On Rock opens thrift shop to help fund struggling West Island charity

The gathering, however, was cancelled due to the pandemic, so the Sneaker Drive adapted.

Shadpey used Instagram to promote the event and even offered donation pick-ups, spending his free-time picking up bags of shoes from friends and even strangers.

Donor Tiana McLaughlin gave a few pairs of her shoes because she thought what they were doing was great.

"It's obviously for a good cause and especially right now with the pandemic and everything, everyone's even lower on money so I think donating is going a long way lately."

Several restaurants, barbers and tattoo shops joined the cause and became drop off zones. Throughout the past week, customers could bring-in their gently used shoes.

As Shadpey collected filled boxes and bags, he couldn't help but thank the generosity of others. A true testament to his late friend.

"Ryan was a really helpful guy, really generous guy. He never asked for help, he was always willing to do whatever he could for anyone. And this is so awesome to be able to keep doing this for the third year in his name."

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