Teddy Binkholder, a senior anthropology major at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, wants your shoes – that is, any pairs of unwanted shoes you have lying around.
As the 3R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) specialist for the UMSL Sustainability Office, she is collecting shoes for reuse this spring semester. The collection is in effort to win Battle of the Boot, a friendly shoe drive competition between Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis and UMSL.
“I have collected around 250 pairs of shoes for the competition thus far with the help of my friends and family,” Binkholder says. “I wanted to jump-start our competition.”
Currently, UMSL has an estimated 500 pairs of shoes donated.
“We were told to start with an easy goal of 1,000 pounds of shoes,” says UMSL Sustainability Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla. “But I bet we can shoot for at least 2,500 pounds. It appears that collecting 5,000 pounds isn’t unheard of or out of our reach either.”
While Battle of the Boot is called a “competition,” the three universities are in fact teaming up to gather as many pairs of shoes as possible in support of the Shoeman Water Project, a nonprofit organization that sells the collected pairs of shoes for pennies on the dollar to people in South America, Haiti, Central America and Kenya. Profits go toward wells, pumps and water purification systems in remote villages.
Binkholder sees this as a win-win for everyone.
“This way, people who need shoes are able to afford them, and with the profits, clean water wells can be dug in villages that have limited access to clean drinking water.”
Battle of the Boot will run all semester until May 31. The university to collect the largest volume of shoes is awarded a boot trophy from Shoeman Water Projects.
Students, faculty and staff can find donation boxes at five locations around campus:
• Entrance to Social Sciences & Business Building, near the Pony Espresso coffee cart
• Millennium Student Center between Einstein Bros Bagels and the UMSL Bookstore
• Entrance to the Provincial House
• Marillac Hall lobby
• Catholic Newman Center
Interested in a collection box for your own department or building? Contact Binkholder at firstname.lastname@example.org.