HUFFPOST PERSONAL

This Woman Bought Out A Closing Payless Store To Give Shoes To Nebraska Flood Victims

Addy Tritt purchased 204 pairs of shoes at Payless to donate to victims of the floods in Nebraska.
Addy Tritt purchased 204 pairs of shoes at Payless to donate to victims of the floods in Nebraska.

When 25-year-old Addy Tritt paid a visit to her local Payless in Hays, Kansas, last week, she didn’t intend to walk out with the last of the store’s inventory.

Tritt went to the now-out-of-business shoe store after seeing an ad on its Facebook page promoting its slashed prices. When the last 204 pairs of footwear dropped to $1 each, she figured she could buy some and donate them to a shelter or church.

“My pile just kept growing bigger and bigger,” Tritt, who recently earned her master’s degree in human resources, told HuffPost on Wednesday. “I finally went up to the sales associate and was like, ‘Hey, weird question. Can you get me a deal on all of these shoes?’ She was like, ‘Are you serious?’” 

It took just a little over two hours and a few phone calls to the Payless corporate office and Tritt was in possession of all the remaining shoes ― which were valued at approximately $6,000, according to the Associated Press. She purchased them for about $100.

The haul of shoes sent to Nebraska flood victims.
The haul of shoes sent to Nebraska flood victims.

“I’m a college student. I don’t have a lot of extra money to be throwing around,” she said. “I got my master’s in HR so I’d like to think I know how to negotiate a little. I don’t know why I did it ― I just did. It’s part of being a human.” 

After considering several different organizations to donate her Payless windfall to, Tritt finally landed on the idea of sending the shoes to Nebraska, where recent epic flooding has destroyed millions of dollars in crops, injured and killed several people, damaged homes and deeply impacted farmers.

“Any shoe is better than a wet shoe,” she said.

There was only one problem: Tritt is in the process of moving to Oklahoma this week and didn’t have time to get the shoes to Nebraska herself. 

She took her dilemma to a local Facebook forum where people post items to buy, sell and trade. Much to her surprise, hundreds of people reached out to help. But Tritt wanted to ensure that the shoes did not get resold or otherwise not reach the intended beneficiaries.

The post Tritt shared on a local Facebook page.
The post Tritt shared on a local Facebook page.

As luck would have it, the Sigma Alpha chapter at Fort Hays State University already had a trip planned that weekend to deliver supplies to needy farmers and they agreed to distribute Tritt’s donations along with theirs. 

“The Beta Mu chapter of Sigma Alpha at Fort Hays State University is truly honored to be able to help in this effort to assist Nebraska farmers in relief,” chapter president Emily Bennigsdorf told HuffPost. “These farmers and their families have been through so much we felt the urge to take action and help as much as we were able to. We were able to have Addy’s shoes go in with all of the donations we received. We partnered with the Western Wranglers 4-H club in Rozel and Burdett KS. They were able to find a semi to take all of our donations up to Nebraska which was delivered Monday afternoon to the Wilcox-Hildreth FFA chapter who will distribute the items.”

Tritt, who said she has been donating and volunteering her whole adult life, is still reeling somewhat from her latest experience.  

“It’s incredible,” she said. “I love donating and volunteering ― period ― and I’ll do this until the day I die. There is nothing ― except for dogs ― that I get more joy out of than helping people.”  

She said she typically uses a fake name or donates anonymously, so having her real identity out there has been a bit jarring. “It’s all coming as kind of a shock because I’m not used to the attention,” she said of her headline-making Payless donation. “I didn’t want the attention and the Facebook trolls are kind of scaring me,” she added. 

Still, not even the worst comments from the darkest corners of the internet can truly discourage Tritt. 

“I’m Catholic and I believe that God has a preset plan for everyone,” she said. “I know everyone has different beliefs and that’s fine, you can believe whatever. But I believe everyone has a purpose and a plan, and I believe part of my plan is to help people, so I’m going to do that any way that I can.”

Donations included shoes for men, women and children.
Donations included shoes for men, women and children.
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