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Good Deeds…in Pairs

by Russell Swanson, Exec. Dir., VDID, Main Street Vineland
Sometimes it’s the simple things that mean the most to others. A simple act of kindness can change lives in so many ways. Maybe it just showing that someone cares. Maybe it’s giving a hand up or providing something that seems so trivial to some, but can tremendously help a person in need.
Blisters on your feet (not to mention many other more serious foot problems) can be a very painful thing, especially if you need to walk in order to get around. Most of us don’t worry too much about this, but many people do.
We are so grateful for Brian Lankin, owner of Al’s Shoes (639 E. Landis Avenue), and chairman of the Vineland Downtown Improvement District/Main Street Vineland, who has chosen to help give back to his community, and to lead by example.
In 2008, to honor his mother Theresa and his father Al, Brian decided to give away 100 to 200 pairs of shoes each year thereafter to honor his parents and their legacy of giving back to the community. This continued for 10 years when Brian’s friends suggested that he give away even more, with their help, in donating and raising more money for this great cause. This allowed Al’s Shoes to donate 1,000 pairs of shoes in 2018. Sacred Heart High School donated a pair of socks for each pair of the shoes.
The next year the Bombas sock company learned of Al’s Shoes’ commitment to donating shoes and donated 2,500 pairs of socks during the Christmas season. Brian was able to raise enough money to give away a pair of shoes with each one of the 2,500 pairs of socks.
Every year thereafter, Bombas has increased its donation of socks—3,000 pairs in 2020, 5,000, 5,500, and this year they donated 10,000 pairs of socks. So far this year 5,000 pairs were sent to over 10 schools in Vineland, and three schools in Bridgeton and Millville. Additional donations have been made to the Vineland Soup Kitchen, St. Vincent De Paul and the Veterans Home.
According to Lankin, “Every year the charity grows with a lot of support of family and friends. I am glad to have so many volunteers and donors, and we could not do it without all the support from the community. Anne Hartman, Debbie Eisinger and Carol Bassetti are my most dedicated volunteers, and we could not do this without all the help from a whole team on the project.”
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On Sunday, June 25, we’ll have our Running The Ave 5K. It’ll take place rain or shine, starting at 9 a.m. We’re partnering with Second Capital Running for this event, with Premier Orthopaedic Associates as the major sponsor, and we’re looking for a good turnout of runners. The initial response has been extraordinary and we’re looking to have over 100 runners participating.
This is a sanctioned race with professional timers, and also medals awarded in a variety of categories—including the “True Grit” award for our last-place finisher, a team challenge, free kid’s dash, as well as a new stroller division.
Register now by going to the event link at It’s is $30 per runner and remember that the event is not open to walkers.

On the Ave