Bankwell collecting shoes for those in need

If the shoe fits, wear it, as they say. But if it doesn’t because you accidentally ordered the wrong size, you could consider donating them to the local Bankwell branch for the good of the needy.

Bankwell is sponsoring a gently used shoe and boot drive at its branches including 47 Old Ridgefield Road in Wilton Center through Sept. 30.

The other branches are at 208 Elm Street or 156 Cherry Street in New Canaan, and 370 Westport Avenue in Norwalk.

This is the bank's fourth annual collection in support of the Open Door Shelter in South Norwalk, said Heidi DeWyngaert, executive vice president and chief lending officer at Bankwell.

“The shoe drive is a terrific way for Bankwell to help support those in need, and we are very appreciative of the generosity and support of so many caring individuals in our communities,” DeWyngaert said.

The Open Door Shelter, formerly known as the Kiwanis Emergency Shelter and the Norwalk Emergency Shelter, will share the shoes and boots with residents at the shelter as well as the needy in the community, said Jeannette Archer-Simons, executive director of the shelter.

The shelter has been serving the greater Norwalk region since 1983. It has beds for 95, and operates 27 affordable apartments. It has an 85% occupancy rate.

The shelter also runs a food pantry for the community, and serves three hot meals a day.

The shoes and boots are important this time of year because it is back-to-school time for the children in need, Archer-Simons said.

“We get shoes donated some of the time, so it becomes an issue particularly for children,” Archer-Simons said. “We have been in process of gathering clothing and shoes for children here to start off the school year.

The shelter also sponsors a clothing distribution for the community six to eight times a year. “So it helps the neighborhood as well,” she said.

The shelter is at 4 Merritt Street in South Norwalk, just off South Main Street.

It works with residents to find affordable housing, not an easy task on the Gold Coast of Fairfield County where real estate is so valuable.

One of its newest programs is rental assistance for those struggling to afford an apartment.