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Get Those Old Shoes Walking!

Do you or your family own any shoes or boots that you no longer need? A non-profit organization called Changing Footprints will take those shoes and boots and distribute them to the poor, the homeless, or to victims of natural disasters. The 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 lead a team of eight unpaid volunteers who gather, sort, and distribute used shoes out of a small warehouse in New Haven. They pair the shoes by either tying the laces, or rubber-banding the shoes together, then sort them by size and general type (there are a total of 42 categories) and put them in banana boxes for easy stacking. Cheryl said women’s donated shoes outnumber men’s shoes, five to one. The greatest need is usually for children’s shoes. Eighty percent of all donated footwear stays in this area and the rest go to disaster areas. A few have gone overseas, but sending shoes overseas is not cost-effective.

Changing Footprints is a 100% volunteer, non-profit organization, without any paid staff. No one is ever charged for shoes and donated shoes are never sold. As with all non-profits, funds to cover operating costs such as rubber bands, rent on the warehouse, and labels for the boxes are in short supply. There are 5 main distribution locations in Indiana: Rushville, North Indy, South Indy, Greenfield, and Fort Wayne. Over 700,000 pairs of shoes have been distributed in the past 17 years. The local branch has collected and distributed over 17,000 pairs through July of this year, but there remains an urgent need to collect more shoes to meet the demand. Shoes are collected from a variety of sources: collection bins at athletic facilities, physical therapy offices, shoe stores, local libraries, and YMCA’s. Periodic shoe drives are held by local churches and schools. Last year Woodlan High School collected an amazing 1700 pairs in one week. Bishop Luers High School gathered 935 pairs through the hard work of their Key Club.

Collecting and redistributing shoes saves, or at least delays, these shoes 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 and Zappos recycling programs. Most people have a closet with at least one pair of 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 and Steppin’ Up Physical Therapy offices, six local Allen County Library locations, and all YMCA’s. A complete drop-off site list is online here: changingfootprints.org/shoe-drops

If your organization would like to conduct a shoe drive for Changing Footprints, please call Rick at 260-755-2162.

The Waynedale News Staff

The Waynedale News Staff

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