Monday, September 21, 2009

Quite the feat CRMS students send 500 pairs of used shoes to needy souls around the world

Local running store also collecting used shoes

Colorado Rocky Mountain School students JJ Worley, left, and Kelsey Bohannon, pictured amidst the boxes filled with 500 pairs of used shoes which they will be shipping off as part of the Soles4Souls effort.

CARBONDALE, Colorado — Friends and fellow Colorado Rocky Mountain School juniors Kelsey Bohannon and JJ Worley recently found a way to help needy people around the world, and keep what otherwise would be trash out of area landfills.

Through the Soles4Souls shoe charity, they collected some 500 pairs of used shoes from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. The shoes will be sent to a warehouse in Nevada, and eventually shipped to villages around the world where people cannot afford to buy shoes themselves.

“I heard about it and it just interested me as a way for people do something for those in need without sending money,” said Bohannon, 16, who lives in Glenwood Springs.

“Some people don't like giving money, because they're not sure what's really going to happen to it,” she said. “There's not much else you can do with used shoes, though. You know someone is going to be wearing them who needs them.”

Worley, also 16, from Carbondale, looks at it as a “one person's trash is another person's treasure” sort of approach to global charity.

“People really do get tired of donating money. This is a way to get rid of something you'd be throwing away anyway, and for a good cause,” she said.

Bohannon and Worley put up flyers around the valley and set up collection boxes at Summit Canyon Mountaineering in Glenwood Springs and at Dos Gringos Burritos in Carbondale.

“They asked me to come empty the box at Summit because it was overflowing,” Bohannon said. “The shoes filled up my car.”

Once they collected all the shoes they realized it would cost $230 to ship them to Nevada, even after the 80 percent charity discount from UPS. So they approached the Aspen Skiing Company, and it covered the shipping cost.

“We didn't even think about the money part of it,” Worley said. “We really want to thank the Skico for helping us out.”

They received some interesting shoes along the way, including some Go-Go boots, a pair of snowboard boots, and ballet slippers.

“Some of them are pretty fancy shoes, and not very used at all,” Bohannon said.

Miser's Mercantile, a local second-hand store, also donated some of the shoes it had in stock, and the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary collected a box of shoes as well.

The students may do another drive in the future, but their collection efforts are done for now. However, Independence Run and Hike, a local running and outdoor gear store, is also a collection location forSoles4Souls.

The store, located in the Gateway Plaza at Highway 133 and Cowen Drive in Carbondale, is collecting “gently worn” footwear and/or monetary donations to help ship the shoes.

The shoes sometimes go to victims of a natural disaster, or who are subject to living in extreme poverty, according to the organization's website,

“It is estimated that Americans have 1.5 billion pairs of unused shoes lying in their closets,” it notes. “The charity can use each and every one of these pairs to make a tangible difference in someone's life.”

Independence Run and Hike owner Brion After said he is glad to contribute, both in the charitable sense and because of the reduced environmental impact of recycling used shoes.

“We believe in taking care of the land that takes care of us,” he said. “Partnering with Soles4Souls enables the local running and hiking community to be environmental stewards and assist those in need throughout the world.”

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