NORTH CANTON, Ohio - An idea by a North Canton man to donate shoes for the homeless or other people in need has motivated many others to drop off shoes at several Stark County businesses.
Inside a giant, cardboard box at Mullinax Ford of North Canton, dozens of pairs of high-heeled shoes, loafers, boots and shoes for kids are piling up.
Dino Costi, a 54-year-old electrical contractor from North Canton, launched the shoe drive to help those who don't have or can't afford to buy shoes.
"We need to do something about it. We need to help it stop. There has to be a starting point and I'm hoping that this is," Costi said.
Costi explained he was motivated to make a difference after meeting a homeless woman in Boston, who turned down his $10 offer and instead, she gave him a yarn bracelet that she made.
He was touched again by a photograph that gained national attention of a New York police officer giving a pair of shoes to a man the officer thought was homeless. It turned out the man wasn't homeless, but that didn't discourage Costi.
He posted a simple message on Facebook about his plan to buy shoes. He wrote, "Who's with me on this?"
The shoe drive took off and nearly 200 pairs of shoes have been collected so far.
"Mary Jo Varn and her husband cleaned out their closet and brought a bag of shoes to the dealership on Monday morning.
"Sometimes we get caught up in the hub-bub, and the shopping, and the deadlines and the food. This is what it's about, helping people, Varn said.
Andrew Bellavia, general manager of Mullinax, said the dealership was happy to assist Costi, who is also a customer.
"It was just one guy who had an idea. He was inspired and told me the story and asked if we could be a drop point. We said, 'Sure.'"
New or gently-used shoes are also being accepted at Massillon City Hall, Arcadia Grill in Canton, TD's Tailgate Grill in Canton and Lighthouse Inn in Perry Township.
Costi hopes to continue the shoe drive past the holiday season.
"It just makes me feel great," he said.
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