Fort Eustis, Newport News education offices donate shoes

November 12, 2014

By cleaning out their closets, members of the Saint Leo University Virginia Peninsula Education Center, specifically the Fort Eustis and Newport News offices, helped the nonprofit THRIVE Peninsula as the center participated in a local community service project.

THRIVE Peninsula is involved in an ongoing project to collect new, gently worn, and even well-worn shoes, which are shipped to 127 impoverished countries, said Maria Cory, executive director of THRIVE Peninsula.

The project has three-prongs: global, local, and environmental.

On a global level, the shoes donated by Saint Leo students, faculty, staff, and families help micro-entrepreneurs. The shoes contribute to the villagers’ income as they sell “refurbished” shoes and products made from dismantled shoes.

“Not only does it help their livelihood, but they can use the shoes to barter,” Corey said. “I’ve heard of a family using the shoes to barter for a goat to provide milk.”

As an education component of the global effort, shoes donated from the Fort Eustis and Newport News offices-allow children to attend school when shoes are necessary for entry into the school buildings. As a health component, families receiving shoes are protected from parasites as well as other safety issues as a result of going barefoot.

At the local level, THRIVE Peninsula earns money back from the donation of shoes. Orlando, FL-based Funds2Orgs is facilitator for the project and pays THRIVE based on the weight of the shoes. The shoes are bundled together in matching pairs with rubber bands or the laces are tied together and then packaged in 33-pound clear plastic bags for distribution to less-advanced nations.

THRIVE Peninsula uses the funds to provide emergency financial aid, food, and budget education programs for those in the Denbigh/Newport Port News area.

Bags of overflowing donations from Fort Eustis and Newport News education offices filled a large grocery cart, and there are more boxes of shoes to be collected, Cory said. “We’re delighted,” with the response from Saint Leo University, she added.

Not only do the donations help families around the world and in Virginia, but the effort also reduces post-consumer waste in landfills. “We’re a green-project,” Cory said.

This was the second shoe drive for the Fort Eustis and Newport News offices as the first was conducted in Spring 2014. Saint Leo students, faculty, and staff again may donate shoes in Spring 2015.