The Changing Footprints project began in Indianapolis, in 2005, when co-founders Maureen Leisure and Bob Broughton learned there was a great need for children’s shoes in Afghanistan. They gathered some friends and created an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that collects unwanted shoes and distributes them for free to kids and adults who need them.
Locally, Cheryl and Jim Brockmann work from a small warehouse in New Haven. They pair the shoes by either tying the laces, or rubber-banding them together. Then they sort them by size and general type and put them in banana boxes for easy stacking. Cheryl said women’s donated shoes outnumber men’s, five to one. The greatest need is for children’s shoes. All new and gently used shoes are distributed to underprivileged, disaster-stricken, or homeless people locally, nationally, and internationally. Eighty percent of donated footwear stays in this area.
Changing Footprints is a 100% volunteer, non-profit, without any paid staff. No one is ever charged for shoes. There are 5 main distribution locations in Indiana: Rushville, North Indy, South Indy, Greenfield, and Fort Wayne. Over 500,000 pairs of shoes have been distributed in the past 17 years. Shoes are collected from a variety of sources: collection bins at shoe stores and churches, shoe drives by schools, churches, civic and governmental agencies, and donations of customer returns by shoe companies.
Collecting and redistrib- uting shoes saves them from ending up in landfills. Changing Footprints accepts all styles, types and sizes of shoes, no matter their condition. Damaged athletic shoes are converted into playground padding or running tracks through the Nike Grind program. Most people have garages and closet floors that are littered with their old shoes. Donating these old shoes to Changing Footprints can clear up space in their home and help a good cause at the same time.
Locally, shoe collection bins are located at all Indiana Physical Therapy offices, six local Allen County Library locations, and the Central, Skyline and Jorgensen YMCA. A complete drop-off site list is online here: www.changingfootprints.org/shoe-drops If your organization would like to conduct a shoe drive for Changing Footprints, please call Rick Boys at 260-755-2162.
The Heritage Lions will be holding their Hoagland Shoe Drive in mid-October. The Changing Footprints motto is “Changing the world two feet at a time.” Donate — don’t trash — your unwanted shoes.
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