Pa. couple sends thousands of sneakers to troops overseas

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Monday, June 26, 2023
Pa. couple sends thousands of sneakers to troops overseas
Sneakers for Soldiers started as a gesture of motherly love. Now, it is a volunteer operation to send shoes to thousands of military members in imminent danger zones.

MEDIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Deborah and John Hausladen have been married for more than 40 years. And though they have two children, they have treated thousands of active duty military members as their own.

"Our youngest son was deployed to Afghanistan in 2018," said Deborah. "As any mother would, I asked him, what do you need? And he said a pair of sneakers. His sneakers were starting to wear out."

But one pair of shoes was not enough to meet the greater need. The Malvern couple formed the nonprofit, Sneakers for Soldiers, to provide footwear for more troops like their son.

The non-profit is aided by a local small business, Bryn Mawr Running Company, who provides shoes at a discounted cost and offers the basement of their Media location as a shipping hub.

"It's expanded into over 11,000 service members in combat zones in imminent danger areas, the most hostile, the most rugged environments in the world," said Deborah.

The Hausladens typically never get to meet the soldiers who receive their care packages. However, that changed when they were introduced to Will Jones, a selected reservist with the United States Navy who lives in Chester Springs.

"My deployment came pretty quick and I remember taking three pairs of boots and then the sneakers that were on my feet at the time," he said. "And in about two months, I noticed the tread was wearing on the foot and I could literally see my foot."

His wife heard about Sneakers for Soldiers and helped to facilitate a special delivery for her husband.

Jones, then deployed in Africa, was thrilled to receive a new pair of sneakers. He still wears them occasionally and as a token of his gratitude.

"I opened the box up, I tried them on, they fit perfectly. I went for a run," he said. "It meant a lot getting that because it was a sense of that home for me."

Sneakers for Soldiers relies on donations and volunteers to continue. To learn more, visit their website.

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