COOS BAY — The fourth annual Shoe Art for Deserving Soles contest has launched at Jennie's Shoes and I am honored to be part of the inspiration that got the fundraiser contest off the ground. More than four years ago shoe store owner Suzy Gibbs and I were having a conversation that blossomed into a way to deal with shoes that were sun-bleached from sitting in the front window of the store. I've decorated shoes every year and will again.

These are shoes that came from the factory mismatched, are sun bleached from being on display, been floor samples, returns or simply the last pair. 

In the past Deserving Soles funds have supported: gas for volunteers transporting students who didn't live on the bus line for the ARK Project, Coos Cares, and then mattresses for foster kids and a safe playground area. Suzy stated, "It's very hard to pick because the need is so great for everybody."

Suzy said this year they "chose Bryan's Home, Operation Hope for the veterans. My son, Andy, went to school with Bryan so they graduated together, so there's a connection."

"This year, materials to finish a room in Bryan's Home," said Dee. Suzy added, "It's a great way to be a part of that community support."

Dee Haevischer at Jennie's shoes said, "I want to stress that 100 percent of the proceeds go to our local community. We always pick a local charity so it stays in our local sphere." 

"There is a big lively discussion about which charity the funds will go to. We ask people, people tell us about charities," said Dee. Once a charity has been chosen they contact them to see what specifically they can help with.

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Excitedly Suzy said, "We've started selling shoes already and we have a whole bin full. The theme is Our Great Outdoors." Shoes will cost $10 each and votes are by donation of a quarter but, "A good donation would be appreciated," said Suzy.

"People campaign for their votes," chuckled Suzy. Last year the contest included a kids and adult division.

Past shoes have been glittery, flowery, sculptures, some with a real nature vibe. You can't even tell the shoe is the base on some of the submissions so anything goes.

If you haven't purchased your shoe to decorate yet, there is still time. The contest voting officially launches during the Blackberry Arts Festival and the winner will be determined just after the Bay Area Fun Festival. 

Jennie's Shoes is located at 262 Central Ave. downtown Coos Bay. Swing by during Wednesday Farmers Market.

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