Sizing up shoe donations
Annual drive seeks help for students
This year marks the 13th annual Heart and Sole drive conducted by Benedictine Sisters Sue Fazzini and Audrey Quinn, who collect and distribute new tennis shoes to needy students in Greene County in time for the new school year.
Over the years they have distributed well over 4,000 pairs of shoes to students from preschool through high school age.
Parishes and community groups throughout the area help the sisters in the work.
Longtime supporters include St. Teresa of Avila School in Perrysville and St. Louise de Marillac in Upper St. Clair, where students conduct shoe drives.
"They collect both shoes and donations and this is a tremendous support," the sisters said, adding, "of course, our parish of St. Ann here in Waynesburg is always very supportive, the Women's Group and Knights of Columbus as well as the parishioners."
Sisters Audrey and Sue arrived in Greene County in 1989 to establish a Benedictine presence and serve the needy in the state's poorest region.
Not knowing anyone in the community, they began by doing volunteer work, serving as tutors, working with Habitat for Humanity, the local food bank and St. Ann Parish.
For many years, before ending the work several years ago, they served as foster parents, accepting 109 placements of children of all ages and served as foster parents to more than 80 children.
Still, they continue many other ministries for the poor.¬† ¬†
This year, the effort also went "international," providing students in the Waynesburg University mission group with shoes to take to an orphanage in Patzun, Guatemala.
"We save the shoe boxes and give them to Pat Bristor of Waynesburg University for the group's Samaritan's Purse project," Sister Sue said. "They fill the boxes with items for Christmas and send them to the missions."
They noted that individual families take on the shoe project as their own.
"We had tremendous support from the Freyvogel family this year," Sister Audrey said. "Cindy Freyvogel watches all year for shoes to go on sale and purchases them for our project and stores them in her home."
Cindy and her husband, Kevin, and daughter Alexandra arrived with 93 pairs of shoes last week, "and a list of all the sizes," Sister Audrey said. "She has also helped us inventory the shoes we have here. We don't know what we would do without her."
As for the sisters' other projects, Andrea Wheeler of St. Ferdinand in Cranberry Township helps with the Christmas backpack project, and Caitlan Carney will be collecting coats again this year for the sisters' Project Warm. Several years ago the St. Ferdinand youth group adopted the backpack project as their own annual effort.
The contributions keep arriving.
On a recent Sunday evening, Father John Harvey, retired pastor of St. Alphonsus in McDonald, stopped by with the Wallace family to drop off more than 70 pairs of shoes.
The family, made up of Christine and John and their children, William, Robert and Ashley, own and operate Wallace Flower Shop in Bethel Park.
"They are friends of Father Harvey, and when he told them about our shoe drive they wanted to help," Sister Sue said.
"It is always so wonderful and heartwarming to know there are many, many people across the diocese willing to help God's children in need," the sisters said.
To help with the sisters' projects for the poor, contact Sisters Sue Fazzini and Audrey Quinn, 274 Whites Road, Waynesburg, Pa. 15370, or call 724-852-4323. Their website is www.angelfire.com/on/osb.