West Junior High collects thousands of shoes for charity

Friday, November 12, 2010 | 1:53 p.m. CST; updated 3:17 p.m. CST, Saturday, November 13, 2010
A bag of donated shoes lay in a pile at West Junior High School for the Shoeman Water Projects on Friday in Columbia. The high school aimed to collect 2,010 pairs of shoes; they counted 3,398 pairs.

COLUMBIA — Bags, bags, bags, all exploding with shoes. Room 201A in West Junior High School was jam packed with shoes, 3,398 pairs of them, as part of the collection to benefit the Shoeman Water Projects.

The only school in Columbia to participate, West took on the project through its world language clubs. Janet Russell, a French teacher, led the school in the fundraiser. 

Donate shoes here

Shoeman Water Projects is accepting donations at these locations. To search for more locations by ZIP code, visit the group's website.

  • The Alpine Shop, 1102 East Broadway
  • Creative Days Art Studio, 1204 Rodgers St.
  • Edward Jones - Financial Advisor, 1400 Hathman Place
  • The Gown House, 1729 West Broadway, suite 9A
  • Heyen Wellness Therapies, 501 W. Botner Road
  • Hy-Vee, 25 Conley Road
  • Hy-Vee, 405 Nifong Blvd.
  • Hy-Vee, 3100 West Broadway
  • Latter House Kingdom Ministries Church, 4914 Prairie Ridge St.
  • Mid Missouri Clinic of Chiropractic, 4040 Ridgeline St., Suite 104
  • Missouri Credit Union, 111 East Broadway
  • Missouri Credit Union, 2101 West Broadway
  • Missouri Credit Union, 3401 Buttonwood Drive
  • Missouri Credit Union, 1310 Smiley Lane

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“I think it’s huge for the kids to learn,” she said. “In my classroom, I teach French, but I teach so many other things. That’s one of the other things, caring about other cultures and learning about other cultures. It’s about learning to give when you have plenty.”

The shoes are donated to retailers in developing countries. The funds those retailers collect from selling the shoes help to buy supplies to bring clean, fresh water to those who do not have it.

The Shoeman Water Projects started in 2008. So far, it has bought four drilling rigs, dug more than 100 wells and has given water to more than 100,000 people in Kenya. The service also worked to purify water in Haiti following the earthquake in January.

The process lasted two weeks, ending Thursday. The collections rolled in slowly at first, but after George “The Shoeman” Hutchings came to do the announcements on parents’ day, the donations came in floods. Having Hutchings, the founder of the Shoeman Water Projects,speak was a good motivator, Russell said.

The Shoeman Water Projects' goal is to collect 100,000 pairs of shoes this year. The school made a goal to collect 2,010 pairs.

“We went way past it,” Russell said.

Students, faculty and parents got involved in the drive, the first time West participated in it. The student who collected the most shoes brought in 249 pairs. One student even took his shoes off and gave them away in the middle of the school day.

“It feels better to give than to receive,” Russell said. “The students got the opportunity to do so.”

Karl Johnson, the Columbia representative for the Shoeman Water Projects, was at West on Friday morning to collect the shoes. They will make their way to a warehouse in St. Louis, where they will be stored until they are shipped to other countries.

“(The project) is to help people,” Johnson said. “This is going to help us get to 2 million shoes in two years.”

Shoes can be donated in Columbia through November. Look for signs at businesses designating drop-off locations (see sidebar on this page).

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