Follow In The Footsteps of Celine, Damon, McLachlan: Donate Shoes To Ron White

By Etan Vlessing 1/8/19 |

Sarah McLachlan and Ron White — photo courtesy of Ron White Shoes
Toronto shoe designer and retail owner Ron White has kicked off his 23rd annual charity shoe drive to put gently worn shoes and boots onto the feet of those in need during the winter months. The donated footwear accepted at Ron White retail stores around Toronto until Feb. 3 will be distributed through charitable partners CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) Foundations' Gifts of Light and Suits Me Fine programs, New Circles' Glow clothing program, and Dress for Success Toronto.

Around 40,000 pairs of shoes and boots have already been donated over the years, including from such names as Celine Dion, Sarah McLachlan, Jeremy Irons, Matt Damon and Rachel McAdams. The pitch is fans following in the footsteps of their favourite celebrity by donating their own used shoes and boots.

Those donating shoes are encouraged to post a photo on social media sites with the hashtag #RWShoeDrive. Ron White Shoes also offers all donors $50 towards a future purchase.

"The event’s global celebrity support has taken our message far and wide and I want to thank everyone – especially the generous leading ladies over the years – for their efforts," namesake Ron White, the CEO and creative director of Ron White Shoes, said in a statement.

CAMH's Gifts of Light program provides emergency necessities, creative courses and potential educational opportunities for people facing mental health and addiction issues.  The hospital's Suits Me Fine clothing shop, located at the hospital's Queen Street location, gives patients the opportunity to select from donated new and gently used clothing, such as shoes and socks ,and formal suits and dresses, free of charge. The clothing can be used for assorted occasions, including job interviews, court appearances and special events.

The Toronto-based hospital for mental health and psychiatric research provides clinical care and services to more than 31,000 patients every year, many of whom arrive at emergency and outpatient clinics, or through the criminal justice system, with only the clothes on their back and require better protection from the Canadian winter.The Ron White shoe drive also supports Dress for for Success, which encourages women to secure a new career and economic independence by receiving professional attire and development tools to return to their workforce after unemployment.

As with CAMH's Suits Me Fine, the Dress for Success shop at Yonge and Sheppard in Toronto offers gently used clothing and shoes free of charge, while also including a support network, including helping with mock interviews and resume writing, for women seeking work.

Celine Dion — photo courtesy of Ron White Shoes.
Dress for Success is best known for its formal two-piece suits, but work appropriate shoes and boots are also in need as women seek the confidence to enter or return to a job and need to make a good first impression to ultimately land meaningful employment.

Adequate clothing those in need during Canada's winter months is also the mission at New Circles' Glow program, another charity partner for the Ron White shoe drive.

The Glow program, which includes a clothing bank for low income families in the five Toronto communities --Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, Victoria Village, Taylor-Massey, and Oakridge -- also offers employment skills training, especially to work in the retail sector, and settlement support for new Canadian refugees, including from Syria. "Our core mission is to ensure that local families struggling with poverty can meet their basic need for adequate clothing," New Circles says on its website.

The annual shoe drive is part of the Ron White Foundation, created in 2009 and which raises funds and awareness for human rights issues. Other annual foundation events include a breast cancer fundraiser and supporting other local charities through an annual White Knight fundraising gala, where guests are dressed completely in white.

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