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Kalispell's 'Shoedog' collects sneakers for those in need

Daily Inter Lake | October 7, 2021 1:00 AM

Kalispell’s Ron Mallery is using his love of shoes to help those in need.

A former shoe salesman at Herberger’s, Mallery’s shoe obsession long ago earned him the nickname “Shoedog” among his friends and family.

Now, the “Shoedog” is looking to give back to his community with his No Sneaker Left Behind shoe drive that aims to collect 500 pairs of shoes for needy families in just 50 days.

“We all have that fantasy of figuring out what we would do if we won the lottery. I would definitely create a website where people in need could go on and order shoes for free,” Mallery said. “I figured this program would be the next best thing. It’s like Coats for Kids or Toys for Tots, just with shoes.”

Mallery’s love of shoes and desire to give back to the community goes back to his days growing up as the middle child of four brothers in Columbia Falls, when new shoes and clothes were hard to come by.

“Everything in our family was hand-me-downs. I didn’t get my first pair of new shoes until I was a senior in high school,” he said. “I will never forget opening the shoebox at Moody’s that day, lifting the tissue paper off that pair of Converse shoes and not being able to wait to go to school the next day.”

Mallery came up with the No Sneakers Left Behind idea after seeing a large collection of shoes left in a neighbor’s yard after a yard sale. Mallery said it hurt him to see so many perfectly good shoes go to a landfill, so he rescued them in the hopes of giving them to those in need.

He was able to make agreements with several grocery stores around the area that have allowed him to put collection boxes in their stores. Collection boxes for the shoe drive can be found at Super 1 stores in Kalispell, Evergreen and Whitefish, as well as several other locations around the valley, including Rosauers, Paper Chase and Albertsons in Kalispell, Safeway in Whitefish and ReMax Home Again Realty in Evergreen.

Collections started in September and the drive has collected 200 pairs of shoes so far, but Mallery is optimistic about meeting his goal of 500 pairs of shoes before the drive ends October 23.

ReMax Home Again Realty will host a giveaway event for the shoes that have been collected from noon to 4 p.m. October 23. Mallery says he hopes that those in need can come pick out some nice shoes, but the event is open to everyone.

Reporter Jeremy Weber may be reached at 406-758-4446 or jweber@dailyinterlake.com