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Helping El Cajon refugees collecting shoes to give to Afghan families in hotels

The group plans to donate the shoes on Sunday as part of a big giveaway for Afghan refugees who could be in hotels for several months.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Organizing footwear by style, size, gender and age group, Barbara Cummings, a volunteer with the "Helping El Cajon Refugees" Facebook Group has transformed her Tierrasanta backyard and garage to resemble a shoe distribution warehouse.

"There’s a constant need for shoes as the new families arrive,” Cummings said.

Ever since the Fall of Kabul last August, Cummings and dozens of local volunteers have continuously helped displaced Afghan families get necessities as they're in temporary housing.

"Families are in the hotels for up to six months and are in need of so many things," Cummings said.

San Diego Unified Schools just enrolled over 150 Afghan students.

“We’re playing a little bit of catch-up with the school wardrobe. They need nice closed-toe shoes, socks and everything that you need to go to school,” Cummings said.

And not just for the kids, the group is collecting donations for their parents. 

Community members dropped off bags of shoes at Cumming’s home in preparation for a big donation giveaway on Sunday, Feb. 20 at 9 a.m. at Residence Inn by Marriott at 8901 Gilman Dr. La Jolla, CA 92037.

Cummings said the group will give refugees shoes, clothing, toys and pressure cookers. She is hoping to have enough shoes to give to each person in need because they ran out last month, and one little boy was left wearing tattered flip flops.

"His heels were dragging off the back like on the ground, and he did not get any shoes, and I can't get that image out of my mind,” Cummings said.

The group is asking for new to gently used donations, as Cummings sorts through old, damaged shoes and washes and repairs them.

"I put pink nail polish on the toes of the shoes to cover up all the scuff marks, and now they look almost brand new,” Cummings said.

The need for shoes continues as more Afghan families come to San Diego.

"I just got notified right now that five more families arrived, and they are at hotels in Mission Valley,” Cummings said.

To physically drop off shoes in new condition by Saturday, the address is – 10432 La Morada Drive San Diego, CA 92124

To donate items online to local refugee families visit the following:

WATCH RELATED: San Diegans step up to help Afghan refugees (December 2021)