shoes – ShOeS – SHOES!!!

Throughout August, St. Ann’s Parish WATCH (We Are The Church) again worked in conjunction with The Iona Group to collect more than 13,000 pairs of shoes for those in need. This amount surpassed last year’s total by almost 4,000 pairs of shoes because of the generosity of people throughout central Illinois.

Shoes were donated in grocery sacks, shoe boxes, large boxes, garbage bags, laundry baskets, as well as car and truck loads.

Other people inspired us with their ingenuity and creativity in collecting and getting shoes to us.

One young man distributed posters with his contact information to garage sales in his neighborhood so that he could pick up their unsold shoes and donate them to our collection effort.

A retired gentleman didn’t feel comfortable throwing away his work shoes, so he donated them to this project in order to help others.

One person used his neighborhood association’s website to collect shoes, while another person collected shoes at her high school class reunion. A woman from a church near Champaign drove all the way to the Pumpkin Capital of Morton to donate leftover shoes from a garage sale fundraiser, and another woman mailed a large box of shoes from Moline.

The organization through which the drive was hosted, WaterStep, says that each pair of donated shoes serves multiple purposes in developing countries: building the economy of a local community by providing micro-finance opportunities; providing affordable footwear to protect the owner’s feet and overall health from foot abrasions, parasites and mites; and initiating sustainable water projects that provide clean drinking water for those in need. In central Illinois, donated shoes decreased landfill waste. The packing materials that came with the shoe donations were recycled whenever possible. Finally, local households were able to clean out their closets and donate shoes they no longer use to the needy.

WaterStep, whose headquarters is in Louisville, Kentucky, says that an average collection by a group outside of their area averages anywhere from 200 – 8,000 pairs of shoes. In each of the first two years, WATCH and The Iona Group have exceeded their expectations. Despite never getting the chance to meet the people that were helped out as a result of this drive, WATCH and Iona would like to extend a big thank you to the community, local businesses and volunteers for all of your time and energy to make this effort such a huge success.

For more information, please contact Denise Henderson, Shoe Project Coordinator, at (309) 263-4662.