Monday, April 26, 2021
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These shoes rule

Project donates shoes to underdeveloped countries

Everyone has those shoes that are never worn and have taken up residence either in the back of a closet or in the deepest recesses under a bed. The Shoeman Water Projects offer a chance to free up space in those areas and do something great for the community at the same time.

Shoeman Water Projects began in August 2008, as a part of Eagle Wings Ministries. This was founded by Ballwin, Mo. native George P. Hutchings with the singular goal in mind of providing fresh, clean drinking water for developing countries throughout the world.

Shoes are donated by businesses, churches, schools and brand name shoe manufacturers and collected by Shoeman Water Projects’ volunteers throughout the year. Many schools and organizations on college campuses have participated in this shoe drive. The shoes are then sold to retailers in developing countries like Haiti and Kenya to, in turn, be resold for pennies on the dollar or bartered to those who have no shoes. The money from the export of the shoes is then used to purchase items such as well-drilling rigs and water purification systems. “To date, four water-well drilling rigs have been purchased that have dug more than 250 wells serving more than 200,000 people,” according to

“I think it’s a great idea. It’s a way for people to help out by doing something simple and easy,” UMKC sophomore Kenna Marx said.

There are residual benefits that come from this truly original philanthropic endeavor. One of these is that by giving retailers products to sell helps to build the local economy, which in turn creates jobs for the people of these countries. Another source of jobs comes from employing people to operate the water-well drilling devices and water purification systems.

Shoeman Water Projects has partnered with StorageMart to provide more drop-off locations and more flexible hours for those who have busier schedules but still want to contribute to the cause.

From the dream of one man to “alleviate as much human suffering as possible” to communities all over the globe, the shoes in the back of a closet can mean so much.

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