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Shoes for kids on their way to Cuba with the help of the Southernmost Coconut Castaways

Key West resident Steve Keno donates a pair of shoes Tuesday at the Smokin' Tuna Saloon on Charles Street as saloon staffer Maria Rendina looks on. The shoes, collected by the Southernmost Coconut Castaways, are for underprivileged children in Cuba.
Key West resident Steve Keno donates a pair of shoes Tuesday at the Smokin' Tuna Saloon on Charles Street as saloon staffer Maria Rendina looks on. The shoes, collected by the Southernmost Coconut Castaways, are for underprivileged children in Cuba.

A California family that is scheduled to leave for Cuba today on a humanitarian trip is taking hundreds of pairs of shoes with them.

Isaac Greenstein, along with his wife and adult son, reached out to the Southernmost Coconut Castaways, a "friend club" of Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band, last week to coordinate a shoe drive for underprivileged children in Cuba.

Donations were dropped off through Tuesday afternoon at the KOA campground on Sugarloaf Key and the Smokin' Tuna Saloon in Key West.

"It's just a family wanting to make the trip really nice," Southernmost Coconut Castaways co-founder Marc Hollander said.

At least 100 pairs of new or gently used shoes were scheduled to be delivered to Cuba by boat, according to Hollander. He spent Monday at the Kmart in Key West buying new shoes for the children, since people who donated to the shoe drive could also give cash or checks. Hollander estimated that at least $700 was donated.

He said the Greensteins are also planning a humanitarian trip to Haiti.

Their trip to Cuba is made easier by the U.S. easing of diplomatic relations with Cuba the past year. Travel to the island, which the U.S. had banned for half a century, was eased in December 2014.

Americans who want to travel to Cuba now don't need to apply for a specific license as long as they meet criteria under one of 12 categories, which includes humanitarian projects.

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