It is an idea that is beautiful in its simplicity: collect shoes from people who have too many, and give them to those without any.

The Nashville-based Soles4Souls will collect new and gently-used footwear at several area sites this week, and the charity's RV Tour will stop at the Stride-Rite store in the Goodwives Shopping Center in Darien on Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m.

All of the area Stride-Rite stores, including those at the Westfield Trumbull mall and the Danbury Fair Mall, and in Westport, will be drop-off centers for donated stores, said Gail Stevens, the company's regional licensee.

Stevens and her husband have already donated more than 5,000 pairs of shoes, most from their Milford warehouse.

"Before we connected with Soles4Soles we contacted the U.S. Army, and they brought the shoes over to Iraq, where our soldiers give them to children and create goodwill,'' Stevens said.

The shoes her company has donated so far have been new--inventory that has not sold or is out of season--but Stevens said the Stride-Rite stores will accept donations of used shoes.

"We will have special discounts for customers who donate a pair and then buy a pair of shoes on Thursday,'' she said. "But since school just started and a lot of people recently bought shoes, we'll offer a coupon that [donors] can use the next time they do need shoes.''

The Mary Taylor United Methodist Church collected more than 500 pairs during the event in June, the Rev. Virginia Hoch said. "It was very successful and we plan to do it again next year.''

The shoes collected at Mary Taylor were shipped to Soles4Souls' distribution center by Stevens.

More than half of all the shoes collected remain in the U.S., said Elizabeth Kirk, the charity's spokeswoman.

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