CHARACTER COUNTS

Brittney Griner’s Heart and Sole Shoe Drive expands to all WNBA markets

Apr 12, 2022, 1:46 PM
Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury is defended by Azurá Stevens #30 of the Chicago Sky dur...
Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury is defended by Azurá Stevens #30 of the Chicago Sky during the first half of Game Four of the WNBA Finals at Wintrust Arena on October 17, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

While Mercury center Brittney Griner remains detained in a Russian prison, Phoenix is continuing BG’s Heart and Sole Shoe Drive in partnership with Phoenix Rescue Mission in her honor.

And for the first time in the drive’s five-year run, the team is expanding its efforts across all 12 WNBA markets this season.

“The most important thing is that our friend and teammate is healthy and safe,” Mercury president Vince Kozar said in a press release Tuesday. “We remain hopeful in the efforts underway to bring her home, and we are grateful for the outpouring of concern we have received. As we await her return, WNBA teams are collectively committing to serve the community in ways that BG would if she were here.

“In Phoenix, we are launching the fifth season of BG’s Heart and Sole Shoe Drive, an initiative she founded in 2016 and cares about very deeply. BG has always led with her heart and in her absence it’s our duty to do good in her name. We invite you to help in any way you can.”

Griner started the shoe drive after she noticed homeless people walking around during the Arizona summer without proper footwear. After speaking with the Mercury, Griner and the team established the shoe drive, which has helped nearly 2,000 Phoenicians from 2016-19. The drive was canceled the past two years due to COVID-19.

In addition to the drive, Griner also joined Phoenix Rescue Mission’s mobile “Hope Coach” to help deliver shoes and other resources to the community.

“We’re going to continue to uplift BG’s community engagement,” WNBA president and Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike told Good Morning America on Tuesday. “She was giving those affected by homelessness in Phoenix shoes out of her car. And so we’re going to continue to uplift that in true BG fashion.

“She’s our sister and as a league we do everything, we mobilize and energize each other. For us to be able to do that until she gets back, that’s top priority for us. We have to continue to be one and move as one.”

To help out the drive, fans can donate new or gently used shoes of all sizes throughout the 2022 season at Mercury home games. The first chance to donate is April 28.

Supporters can also make cash donations to Phoenix Rescue Mission here. Fans donating are encouraged to leave “BG” in the comments to help the Mercury track the drive.

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