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District U-46 assisting shoe drive campaign

By Seth Hancock
  Having a pair of shoes in the cold winters of the Chicago area is something most of us take for granted, but in other parts of the world having shoes in harsh conditions is not as common.
  Lisa Haser, a oncology registered nurse for nearly four decades, witnessed this first hand when she went on a medical missions trip to Lebanon in February sponsored by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).
  “I spent the majority of my time in different refugee camps,” Haser said. “While in the camps, I was freezing in the snowy mountain. The conditions were deplorable at best. The children had no shoes, or were only wearing sandals.”
  It was the first overseas trip for Haser, who was asked to go on the trip by the president of the Midwest chapter of SAMS Dr. Muffadal Hamadeh, who she has worked with for 22 years.
  Haser said the trip “had a profound impact on me,” and when she returned home she started a campaign to collect shoes to send overseas with a shoe drive campaign with donation boxes placed at facilities around the area.
  “I don’t have great sums of money to donate, but I felt I needed to do something,” Haser said. “So when I came home I started my campaign. The entire drive has stemmed from my family and friends.”
  Haser added: “Nothing formal really...just people trying to help.”
  One of those friends is Phil Costello who sits on the School District U-46 Board of Education. Costello lauded the selfless effort of Haser and said her story “was just something that I felt was compelling.”
  Costello sent a letter Haser wrote to U-46 CEO Tony Sanders to ask for donation boxes to be placed at U-46 buildings. Costello also said there are boxes at the Oak Lawn Park District, where he is the superintendent of finance and personnel, as well as some area churches.
  At district schools donations can be made through Friday, May 6, and at the April 25 board meeting, Costello thanked the district and said “I very much appreciate the students here in U-46” who have already donated.
  “I just want to applaud U-46 and especially Mr. Sanders for spearheading that and collecting what appears to be a truckload of shoes,” Costello said.
  Sanders later said all he did was to write a weekly message and said Melanie Meidel and the Human Resources Department did all the work in U-46.
  Haser said that U-46 “took the ball and ran” when Costello brought the campaign to the district, but she has boxes in plenty of locations from libraries to the private school her children attend.
  Hamadeh helped arrange shipment of the shoes through other relief organizations, and Haser has already rented a truck to take 2,000 pairs of shoes to Boston where they will be shipped.
  Haser said there are still boxes at the Noonan Elementary Academy and area mosques among others. She said her campaign will end in the middle of July.
  “If I can relay any message through my efforts, it is that the campaign is not about politics or religion,” Haser said. “It’s about people in need.”



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