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Laurie Diestler, Nature Coast Volunteer Center supervisor, with one of this year’s Two Good Soles donation boxes.

In honor and remembrance of the first responders and victims of 9/11, the Friends of the Nature Coast Volunteer Center have created a day of philanthropy for our community that occurs every Sept. 11, the National Day of Giving.

The Two Good Soles Shoes and Socks Drive, which benefits children of Citrus County, is celebrating its 18th year. Every year, the drive has exceeded its goal, said organizers, thanks to the generosity of Citrus County residents. This year’s goal is 2,500 shoes and socks.

“From July 29 to Sept. 10, collection boxes will be available in many locations throughout the county where you can donate new shoes and socks,” said Laurie Diestler, Nature Coast Volunteer Center supervisor.

Some of the drop off locations are: Bealls Outlet in Crystal River, all Citrus County community centers, Citrus County District Student Services in Lecanto and Inverness, all Citrus County libraries, the tax collector’s offices in Crystal River and Inverness and the YMCA in Lecanto.

“Sneakers are the preferred style of shoes for the children,” Diestler said.

The collected items will benefit Citrus County District Student Services, Citrus Abuse Shelter Association (CASA), Citrus County Family Resource Center, Citrus United Basket, Daystar Life Center and the Pregnancy and Family Life Center. All of the donated shoes and socks will remain in Citrus County.

The culmination of the Two Good Soles Shoes and Socks Drive will be the dedication ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, in the Central Citrus Community Center Café, 2804 W. Marc Knighton Court, in Lecanto.

“The donated shoes and socks will be sorted and divided up between the receiving agencies,” Diestler said.

The public is invited to the ceremony; RSVP at 352-527-5959. Businesses and civic organizations that would like to participate in Two Good Soles may also call 352-527-5959.

Donating shoes and socks may change the life of an underprivileged child, like the teenager at the CREST School last year, Diestler noted. He loved to play basketball, but couldn’t do so because his sneakers were old, worn out and too small. A new pair of sneakers gave him back the chance to enjoy his favorite sport.

Stories like this happen over and over: These stories are the driving force behind the heartfelt project, she said.

Two Good Soles secondary

Some of the donated sneakers and shoes at the 9-11 dedication ceremony in 2018.

The Nature Coast Volunteer Center connects potential volunteers with volunteer opportunities throughout the county. According to Diestler, they currently have 568 volunteers registered, but the numbers vary at any given time.

Some of the opportunities that are available thru the center are with the schools, libraries, animal services, nonprofits and senior services. Registration is online at www.naturecoastvolunteercenter.org, or by calling 352-527-5959.

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