WBAY Cares: Shoes for Sunshine

The shoe drive benefits two causes close to the American Idol singer's heart
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 6:26 AM CDT|Updated: May. 2, 2023 at 5:26 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s spring-cleaning time for many of us in Northeast Wisconsin. If you’re looking to downsize your closet consider donating your clothes to create space and support a local non-profit at the same time.

Franki Moscato, the former American Idol contestant from Oshkosh, has launched her first-ever “Shoes for Sunshine” campaign. The donation drive will support two causes near and dear to the singer’s heart.

At the Franki Moscato Foundation in downtown Oshkosh, visitors are greeted by messages of positivity and a reminder to be kind to others. It’s part of the musician’s mission to help prevent teen suicide.

“I was in my own dark place. I was bullied out of two different schools. The more that I performed and you know I used I think the gifts that I’ve been given to inspire others, I think it just made me a really easy target,” said Moscato.

After gaining fame through performances at Lambeau Field and earning the golden ticket on American Idol, Moscato is using her celebrity for good, giving motivational speeches in schools and providing free counseling services, music therapy and other mental health resources for teens through her foundation.

“We mostly put our money toward families who can’t afford to pay for the insurance for their child’s mental health therapy or their depression therapy, and we also pay to broadcast public service announcements on television and radio to deglamorize and destigmatize adolescent suicide,” said Moscato.

To continue supporting this important work, the foundation has teamed up with “Funds 2 Orgs” for its inaugural “Shoes for Sunshine” campaign. Moscato hopes as you’re decluttering your closets this spring, you’ll consider donating new and gently worn footwear.

“You know we all want to get tidier and get more organized,” said Moscato. “And so you feel great when you give your shoes away to the Foundation, and we get 50 cents per pound, and you’re also supporting developing countries so this is just the best cause in the world.”

“We’re ballparking 600 shoes so far,” said Tommy Truty, the project manager at Shoes for Sunshine. “Boots, sandals, heels, running shoes, working boots, flip flops, you name it.”

Truty, a student at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, has formed partnerships with local churches, the Oshkosh Rotary Club, and businesses like Revs Bowl Bar and Grill which will host a shoe drop-off party and live music by Moscato on Saturday, May 6.

“This has been my project for Franki and I get to really go out into the community and make strong connections with the people in our community, and then I get to help a great cause too,” said Truty.

In addition to monetary support for suicide prevention, donated shoes will be shipped to about two dozen countries, like Haiti, to protect the feet of families living in poverty. Moscato is grateful for the community’s generosity.

“We can help hopefully save lives and change their lives and lead them in the right direction,” said Moscato.

You can drop off your donation of shoes through Saturday, May 13, at the Franki Moscato Foundation headquarters, 452 N. Main St., in downtown Oshkosh.

For more information on drop-off locations and porch pick-up options visit the foundation’s website at https://frankijo.com/foundation/shoe-drive/ and follow them on their social media https://www.facebook.com/frankimoscatofoundation/.

Do you know someone deserving some extra recognition in a WBAY Cares report?

Send an email to wbaycares@wbay.com. We may feature them in an upcoming story.