Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Alyssa Erdley
Observer Staff Writer 

Shoes Wanted for the Homeless Before Thanksgiving; Call For Pickup

Those boots in your closet were made for walking, that's just what they'll do, if you give them to Ralph Hattenbach

 

November 27, 2019

Shoes Wanted for Thanksgiving Giveaway Ralph Hattenbach is collecting shoes and giving them to local homeless people

Ralph wants your shoes.

Ralph Hattenbach doesn't head any famous national charity organization. He doesn't earn a five-to-six figure income in order to devise means of persuading you to donate to any cause. He's just a guy who tries to do the right thing in his spare time.

This year, Ralph is collecting shoes, in good to very good condition, in order to distribute them to the homeless during the Westside Thanksgiving dinner. His goal is at least 125 pairs. Ralph plans to follow Jewish tradition in giving the shoes anonymously.

Zero overhead. Ralph will come pick them up if you don't have the time to send them to his PO Box (address below).

Last year, Ralph donated 100 heavy winter coats to men with substance abuse problems living on the Veterans Administration grounds. "I'm really glad I did that," he says. "It was a cold winter."

Ralph is a longtime Santa Monica resident, married for 35 years to "the same girl." He's had a lot of jobs, he says, and now works at Armstrong Garden Center. But wherever he is, Ralph wants to make things better.

"My idea of better is not always the same as other people's," Ralph admits. "Sometimes it's caused me to lose a job." But in Ralph's eyes, it's always worth it.

"I look for something that's wrong, and I do whatever I can to make it better. "It's a good feeling. I get more joy out of giving than getting. So maybe it's selfish. It makes me feel good," Ralph says.

Ralph says he decided to seek shoes because of their importance to overall well-being. "If you're wearing shoes that are uncomfortable, it affects everything," Ralph says, noting he spends most of his days on his feet. He noticed that homeless people sleep with their shoes on. "It's an important thing to them. They can't do without," he says. They know if they take their shoes off, they might get stolen, and that would be a serious loss.

Last year, Ralph and his team collected coats for the homeless.

So far, Ralph has sent out an appeal for shoes to the 300 people on his personal email list. The list is comprised of everyone he's ever met in his life - whose email address he has. For the past five years, he's sent a monthly message with "something that might make their lives a little better, like emergency preparedness or little jokes." Ralph says he gets interesting responses, sometimes from people he hasn't heard from in years. "It makes me feel good," he says.

Ralph will accept any type of shoes: dress, casual, or sneakers. He's particularly intent on collecting men's shoes. Ralph has noted that in clothes giveaways, it's typically overwhelmingly women's clothes. He believes women are better at cleaning out their closets than men are. In any case, Ralph says "The spirit of doing is more important than what types I get."

To send shoes to Ralph:

12021 Wilshire Blvd #144

Los Angeles, CA 90025

To ask Ralph to pick up your shoes, call: 310-486-3446

If the shoes are not labeled for size, please mark the size on the bottom.

 

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