reporter 4-30-24 epchs sneakers

EPCHS students collect shoes for Christmas Without Cancer Sneaker Drive

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From staff reports

Students in Evergreen Park Community High School’s junior physical education leadership class teamed up with the non-profit organization Christmas Without Cancer to help local families battling the devastation of cancer.

The class – taught by EPCHS physical education teacher Ree McDonald – helped gather donations for Christmas Without Cancer’s second annual Sneaker Drive. Students paired up to make posters raising awareness about the drive, and collected nearly 150 pairs of gym shoes over the course of a couple of weeks.

“Thank you to our students, staff, and community for your donations,” said McDonald, who herself is a breast cancer survivor. “Together we can and will make a difference in the lives of local cancer patients and their families.”

The shoes gathered in the drive will be donated to GotSneakers, a sneaker recycling program that raises money for each pair of used shoes, with the goal of keeping sneakers and gym shoes out of landfills and reusing the sneakers for people in need.

All reusable sneakers from the drive will be recirculated to the secondhand market, so people can access quality, pre-owned footwear at affordable prices. Heavily used and damaged footwear will be recycled to reuse materials or to convert waste into new energy.

Every pair donated as part of the drive will raise money for Christmas Without Cancer, a non-profit that helps local families battling the devastation of cancer. Christmas Without Cancer identifies needs and then provides gifts and basic necessities to Chicagoland families with members stricken with cancer so as to allow the beauty of Christmas to shine through while family members find comfort in their devotion to one another, according to the organization’s website.

McDonald has known Christmas Without Cancer founder Geri Neylon for the past 12 years, having met when Neylon was McDonald’s radiation oncology nurse at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in 2011.

Before the sneaker drive began, McDonald would frequently help the organization by offering extra credit for any students who ran or helped volunteer at Christmas Without Cancer’s annual 5K Run/Walk event held in Evergreen Park.

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