Waukee Christian Church Shoe Drive runs through July 31
Everyday we lace up, Velcro on and zip up shoes to take us from point a to point b. Each means something a little different, sneakers for a workout, heels for the workplace, casual kicks for a movie night out. Now, shift the paradigm. What if shoes meant more than sole protection and style? When something as simple as a pair shoes can perpetuate a business and produce capital that is when the true fashionable impact begins.
Waukee Christian Church, living on the western edge of blossoming Waukee where the rural countryside meets metropolitan development, wanted to break out beyond their four walls of worship. Making a difference for the constituents meant short and long-term impact. Which is why they began the Shoe Drive to collect gently used pairs of shoes.
Near and Far
In 2014 over 7,240 pairs of shoes were donated and this year the Church is out to top that number. 200 pairs of youth shoes were allocated to Waukee Christian Services and the rest were donated internationally through Funds2Orgs.
Woods explained why keeping part of the drive local was important.
“This church is one of the original founding churches of Waukee Christian Services and so we knew that our vision for providing care and support to those families struggling to make ends meet were compatible.”
Word of this easy yet important fundraiser has spread.
“Other touching stories include the widows and widowers who contact us and ask us to take their loved one’s shoes,” Woods said. “Unable to part with them before, they are able to give them to the Shoe Drive because they know they will make a huge impact on the world; it is a small gift, but it is so meaningful to them.”
Once again the Church is partnering with the Des Moines Color Run and will be collecting shoes at the 5k race on July 11.
Woods said individuals and entire communities are communing around the Shoe drive.
“We have been contacted by people from across Iowa and beyond: Panora, Osceola, Woodward, Council Bluffs, Ankeny and Minneapolis!”
Osceola, Iowa has adopted the mission as their Make a Difference Day project and a small college in suburban Chicago is collecting. A Mahjong Club in Ankeny and local Drake and Grandview Universities join them in donations.
Participants of the Iowa Gladiator Assault Challenge in Boone donated muddy shoes to the Drive.
It is a fundraiser for all ages.
“The church’s summer camp program is encouraging all youth to bring a pair of shoes to camp to donate,” Woods said. “Our youth group went to Boone last night to clean and match a pickup truckload of shoes.”
A Shoe Cycle
The life cycle of donated shoes just begins after they exit your closet. Donation bins are located at Waukee Christian Church and the Waukee Family YMCA. The bins will then be collected and the shoes will be consolidated before being dispersed to the network of micro-entrepreneurs in nations with developing economies.
These micro-entrepreneurs then repurpose the shoes. Often they clean, repair or melt down the material to create a good-as-new-pair of shoes. These micro-business owners, with minimal employees and capital, can also use the shoe materials in other producible goods.
“In developing countries, micro entrepreneurs represent the vast majority of the small business sector–due to a lack of formal jobs and training available,” Woods explained. “This means that people are not only given much needed clothing, but that they are given the tools to make a lasting change for the better.”
A simple donation spurs a cogwheel of impact. The entrepreneurs can then sell the in-demand shoes to their communities in return for payments or trades that allow them to fulfill the basic needs of their families.
Woods said that the Drive’s influence was visible when the denomination’s Regional Administrative Coordinator for Ministries, Connie Derby Dicks, recently embarked on a mission to Haiti.
“While there she saw our shoes lined up along the roadside and for sale by one of the many micro-entrepreneurs who benefit from the Drive; she said that the mission trip changed her life, and it was wonderful to see a connection to rural Iowa so far from home.”
The Shoe Drive is rooted in ecological impact as well. Woods said many of the founding members of the church were farmers, hence with a deep connection to the land.
“We thought that this was another way we could impact the world in a positive way and protect the land we love,” Woods said.
In the U.S. alone approximately 600 million pairs of shoes are thrown away annually, not only does this add to the massive overflowing landfills, the chemicals and materials used in the manufacturing process can create health hazards when left to break down in the garbage.
Used shoes needing a place to go? Donate to the drive through July 31.
- Waukee Christian Church, 29043 T Ave, Waukee, Iowa 50263
- Waukee Family YMCA, 210 North Warrior Ln, Waukee, Iowa 50263