For the month of September, fundraising teams from all over Simcoe County and beyond are organizing their own versions of the Red Shoe Walk, seeking to raise funds for area women and children’s shelters.
A group of neighbours from Collingwood – captained by husband and wife Warren and Cheryl May – decided to turn their walk into a crawl.
The Mays led the way on Friday (Sept. 9) for the Red Shoe Pub Crawl which started at Black Bellows Brewery at Ste. Marie and Simcoe Streets and continued to Moguls and 1858 Caesar Bar, strutting their stuff toward reaching $8,500 raised for My Friend’s House in Collingwood.
The issue is a personal one for the Mays.
“We’ve had a couple of friends who were victims of domestic violence,” said Warren.
“(With one friend), we were able to get our friend and her children out. With our other friend, we weren’t as lucky. Her husband killed her,” said Cheryl. “We were able to help one. Any little bits we can do to help women and children escape domestic violence, it’s a win.”
The couple has lived in Collingwood for the last four years after moving from Caledon.
“We bought a place here thinking we’d use it as a cottage, but then we fell in love with Collingwood,” said Warren. “We decided to sell in Caledon and move up. I think that happens a lot.”
The annual fundraiser is only one of the ways the couple supports My Friend’s House. They also run bottle drives all through the year.
“During COVID-19, we were going for walks everyday. We were noticing people were putting beer, wine bottles and cans into their blue bins,” said Cheryl. “We thought it was a waste – it’s kind of like throwing out money.”
“I thought, the women’s shelter always needs help. Every month, we just collect our neighbours’ empties and return them to the beer stores. We average about $200 to $300 a month,” she said.
Now, neighbours of the Mays drop off their empties at a designated spot at the side of their house to support the cause. Some neighbours who don’t drink will instead drop off gift cards purchased at local stores to pass along to the shelter.
The first time the group did the pub crawl in 2021, there were about five couples, and the group collectively raised $4,500. This time around, nine couples took part.
“We live in such a great community,” said Cheryl. “We feel so blessed that we can give back to the community somehow.”
“It really brings the community together,” said Warren. “We opened the door. That’s all we did.”
Throughout the pandemic, calls to My Friend’s House’s trauma line have increased by 40 per cent and the need for their services is growing. The 24/7 crisis line took more than 3,000 calls last year.
My Friend’s House has set an overall fundraising goal of $85,000 for 2022. Participants can walk any time during the month of September and share their experience on social media using #RedShoeWalk.
Participants can still register online for this year's walk here.