SALEM - The Salem High School Class of 2016 plans to raise money for next year's prom and after prom one shoe at a time. They just need some help collecting the gently-used footwear.
So far, class members and their parents have collected more than 600 pairs of shoes - from flats and heels to boots and sneakers and everything in between. They only have 14,400 more pairs of shoes to go to reach their goal of 15,000 pairs of shoes.
The shoes will be packaged up and shipped out to a company known as Funds2Orgs which pays money to school groups and nonprofit organizations to collect shoes which are then distributed to less fortunate countries for repurposing projects or donations to those in need.
Salem High School Class of 2016 members, from left, Amanda Valinente, Jarrod Polen, Ashley Foster and Sydney Green show some of the shoes they have collected to raise money for next year’s prom and help people in impoverished countries at the same time.
According to the company website at www.funds2orgs.com, "gently worn shoes are used in developing nations for impoverished people to start, maintain, and grow a Micro-enterprise. Because of this opportunity, individuals are able to feed, clothe, and house their families. Collected shoes are consolidated and shipped to on-the-ground business operators where they clean, repair, or melt down outsoles if necessary, to make a new pair of shoes."
The website said "it is nothing short of amazing to watch the Micro-enterprise philosophy at work, driven simply by our discarded footwear. The shoes that we longer want or wear are creating sustainable economic means in countries where there is little hope (of) economic stability."
Marylou Foster, whose daughter Ashley is a member of the SHS Class of 2016, has been organizing the shoe collection effort and planned to talk to the entire class this past Friday to explain what the students can do.
The plan is to have students approach local businesses about putting up shoe flyers and donating shoes, possibly by serving as collection points for their employees or even for the public if possible. Students will start trolling for shoes at local garage sales, too, and help in the packaging process to get the shoes ready to ship.
"They're not selling anything. They're just asking for something that people are throwing away anyway," she said.
Collecting the shoes also helps keep them out of landfills and gets them into the hands of people who can make use of them. They ask that none of the shoes have holes or are torn. They'll take any type or size of shoe, clean or dirty, flats, heels, work boots, sandals, flip flops, basketball shoes, football shoes, tennis shoes, soccer cleats, baseball cleats, any shoes.
Their flyers say "help us help others" and Foster said the program works like a hand up, not a handout for the people who end up with the shoes.
Shoes will be collected from now through Nov. 10 this year, with some already collected during the recent Angels for Animals garage sale at the Canfield Fairgrounds. Foster said emails have been sent to the chairpersons of SHS class reunions for this year through the SHS Alumni Association about collecting shoes for the Class of 2016.
Boxes have been placed at all of the elementary schools, including St. Paul School, and some of the churches are involved and have placed boxes in the churches and information in their church bulletins.
Shoe drop-off sites during normal business hours include: Shoe Sensation in the Eastgate Plaza in Salem; the Little Red Hen/Muffler Man, 1264 W. State St., Salem; Animal Resource Center screened-in porch, 721 E. Pidgeon Road, Salem; UPS Store, 2789 E. State St., Salem; Global-Pak Inc., 1387 Columbiana-Lisbon Road, Columbiana; and Global-Pak Inc., 2781 Lisbon St., East Liverpool.
Foster said the Arby's Car Cruise has agreed to dedicate the Aug. 9 cruise-in to the shoe collection for the Class of 2016, with a rain date of Aug. 16. Angels for Animals has also agreed to let them tag on to some of their events and she's looking for other events they can use for collections.
Anyone with an event who would welcome the shoe collection drive or anyone wanting to donate shoes or any SHS Class of 2016 parents who want to help can contact Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"This is a team effort - together everyone achieves more," she said.