A DUMPSTER-DIVING HERO #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Ranya Kelly of Arvada, Colorado, had no idea what risks were ahead of her when she sort of fell into her life’s work. She was looking for an empty carton in a dumpster behind a shoe store. Along with empty boxes, she found hundreds of brand new shoes, thrown out by the shoe store because they hadn’t sold. Kelly was delighted to salvage the shoes and take them to shelters for the homeless. Did the shoe store thank her for finding a good use for shoes they’d thrown away as worthless? No way. They told Kelly she was a thief and threatened to have her arrested for stealing. Afraid people from the shelter might try to return the shoes to the store for cash refunds, they began putting yellow paint on the next shoes they threw out, so they couldn’t be returned—or worn without embarrassment. But Kelly kept pulling shoes out of the dumpster. She just cleaned off the paint, and took them to the shelters. The thought of going to jail for theft was unnerving.She not only didn’t want to be locked up, she also didn’t want to jeopardize her husband’s position in a prominent firm. If he was fired for having a jailbird wife, it would be a disaster for her family. In spite of all that, she kept taking the shoes. “I decided it was more important to do this work, and that if I got arrested for it, that was okay.” When Kelly discovered that other shoe stores were also throwing away useable shoes, she began taking them from their dumpsters too. Kelly stayed out of jail; she discovered that discarded goods became the property of the hauling company once they’re put in a dumpster. The hauler took her side and gave her permission to take what she wanted. Persistence paid off and that original store, plus all Denver-area stores in the same chain, began just giving her the shoes without marking them with paint and without threatening her. Publicity about Kelly has inspired other stores and manufacturers to donate good stuff they would normally throw away. Kelly’s crusade to prevent thoughtless waste is now moving thousands of dollars worth of goods to the poor every day of the year. Update: Since being commended as a Giraffe in 1991, Kelly has gotten over 700,000 pairs of new shoes to people who need them. Her operation now also distributes other clothing, furnishings--whatever people in distress may need. She's gone beyond her Colorado location to assist after natural disasters, and on Indian reservations. She's particularly focused on helping the families of vets and active duty military personnel, who too often have trouble making ends meet. All work in the operation is still done by volunteers. Like this Giraffe? LIKE this Page! Giraffes should have 10,000 Likes. And do Share with Friends. We all need to know there are real heroes among us.