Led by its student council, Garrett Elementary School collected 200 pairs of shoes for Shoeman Water Projects.
Shoeman Water Projects is a non-profit company that takes donated, used and new shoes from businesses, churches, schools and special events. Shoeman sells them to exporters in South America, Haiti, India, Africa and other places where people need affordable footwear. Other program benefits are that the shoes avoid going to landfills and shoe resale promotes micro retail businesses in nations which import the footwear. The profit Shoeman receives from selling shoes is then used to buy drilling rigs and equipment to drill for water and water purification equipment to bring clean water to places such as Haiti, India, Kenya and South America.
At Garrett, student council co-sponsors Jan Haffer and Toni Grimes coordinated the effort. They showed the student council members a video about what Shoeman does so they understood the process.
“The kids were so excited about it. They created oversized shoeboxes where people could leave donated shoes,” Haffer said.
The co-sponsors helped the students come with ideas for posters that they hung around the school to encourage donations. Students laced or rubber-banded donated shoes together.
“The morning I took the shoes to the local collection site I found two more pairs hanging from my doorknob,” Haffer said. “We will do this again next year.”
In Grimes’ second-grade class, student council members talked about how they helped.
“We tried to come up with a new services program each month,” she said. “We set a goal of 100 pairs of shoes and when we were mid-way through the project, we already had 98 pairs so we encouraged others to donate and we raised our goal to 120 pairs.”
Kerry Pinnell served as the updater, counting the donated shoes and revising the total after each count.
“When we walked down the hall, I counted how many shoes we had – 26 pairs. I feel good for the countries that will get clean water.”
“I feel happy I helped,” said Emmanuel Kahindi, whose family is from Kenya. “I counted how many bags and how many shoes were in there.”
Shoeman has collected more than one million donated shoes since 2008 and those donations resulted in new wells drilled in Kenya and water purification systems installed in Haiti.
“Every pair donated really saves two lives,” said Karl Johnson, part of the Shoeman project in Columbia, MO. “Someone gets a cheap pair of shoes that never would have had them and someone gets life-saving water.”