Latinos Conservative Organization in Gainesville collected 86 pairs of shoes days before Christmas Eve, to help ease the daily travels of local veterans and homeless people.
“This is their transportation,” Art Gallegos Jr., the organization’s president, said while gesturing to the rows of shoes. “Meeting veterans and homeless, we started noticing that their shoes were torn and soles were very worn out. We said, ‘Let’s do something nice like a drive.’”
Gallegos and other members of the organization dropped off the shoes on Friday, Dec. 27, at Set Free Ministry in Gainesville, which is often frequented by veterans and homeless people. Gallegos said the shoes are not only for veterans and homeless people, but for those in need who visit the ministry.
This was their second year making the donation.
“LCO is about being a bridge to get them from where they’re at, to where they’re going,” Semuel Maysonet, vice president of the organization, said. “What better way to cross that bridge than with some shoes on your feet?”
Thomas “Woody” Woodall, director of the ministry, said he keeps the building stocked with food and clothing for anyone in need who visits the location.
Woodall served in the U.S. Marines for seven years, and spends most days helping the veterans who come into Set Free Ministry.
“Most of the guys that come through walk here,” Woodall said. “Few that come through the ministry come through with all they have. We try to keep clothing on hand to build them up a little something.”
He said the shoe drive also helps conserve the ministry’s funding, which is raised only through donations.
“Any little blessing is tremendous,” Woodall said.
Before unloading the shoes on Friday, Gallegos was put in contact with a veteran amputee who needed a new shoe. Gallegos said he ended up bringing a couple of pairs of shoes to the man, even though he only needed one shoe for his single foot.
“The best gift that we can give as human beings is serving others, and this is our little service,” Gallegos said.
Latinos Conservative Organization plans to have more clothing drives this year, specifically with coats and blankets.
Gallegos said the group is committed to working with the area’s communities and helping those in need beyond the giving season.
For more information about Latinos Conservative Organization, visit latinosconservative.com.