Thanks to St. Agnes parishioner Sean McConnell, who is organizing a Shoeman Water Projects shoe drive, students at St. Agnes, Cathedral, Christ the King, St. Aloysius, St. Patrick and Sacred Heart-Griffin High School are involved in a project that will help people both locally and far away. Other schools holding shoe drives are Rochester High School and Springfield's Grant Middle School, Lincoln-Magnet Middle School, and Ridgley Elementary, he says.
"The Shoeman-Water Projects is a non-for-profit organization that collects shoes that are sold to an exporter (at a discounted price in a particular country) who then sells the shoes once again at a discounted price in street markets in that country," McConnell explains. "The money they collect from the exporters is used to finance clean water projects." Projects include fresh water wells, well repairs, aqueducts, filtration/purification systems and sanitation/sustainability training.
McConnell worked on a smaller scale shoe drive in 2011 at Benedictine University and then organized a city-wide shoe drive in October 2013, when he was a senior at Benedictine. "That year (2013) we collected over 2,700 pairs of shoes that went to Shoeman Water Projects. This year there is once again an interest to have another drive," he says. "Besides giving them to the Shoeman Water Projects, we'd like to donate some of the shoes we collect, locally.
"I wanted to keep doing this and to also help local charities that gear towards the homeless and lower income members of our community," he says. "Some of the shoes we collect will go to local charities and to students and their families at Harvard Park Elementary."
The shoes the students collect for the Shoeman Water Projects will help many other students of the same age, wherever the shoes go, McConnell says. In the past shoes have gone to Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East.
"In 2013 our shoes went to Haiti," he says. "The money generated from their discounted sale to exporters went to help the Shoeman Water Projects build many water purification systems in some of the slums surrounding Port au Prince, Haiti."
McConnell is happy to help locally, he says. "Considering the times we live in there are a lot of people locally where money is tight. By just giving a simple donation, such as shoes, it is one less thing that they have to worry about. They can put their money and effort to other uses. It's always great when a diverse group of people can come together for one common goal in helping others, especially others that are in the same community."
The shoe drives are taking place from Oct. 12-16 and Oct. 19-23, McConnell says. "It just depended on what worked for that school," he concludes.