George "The Shoeman" Hutchings is teaming up with Kingdom Seeds Outreach, of Fenton, and local stores across the area on a massive drive to collect shoes and turn them into clean drinking water.
The shoes will get a second life as affordable shoes in developing countries, and their sale will fund drills or water filtration systems that can access fresh water. The organizers are accepting new or gently used shoes. They need to be tied or bagged together. Every donation will go to the purchase of needed equipment.
The goal is to collect 250,000 shoes at the three-day event, June 14-16. There are 25 participating Walmart stores in the St. Louis region accepting donations from 7 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Participating stores include those in South County, Arnold, Farmington, Lake St. Louis, Potosi, Sullivan, Belleville, Fenton, Manchester, West Florissant, Warrenton, Chesterfield, Festus, Maplewood, Washington, Collinsville, O’Fallon, IL, St. Charles, Waterloo, Eureka, Kirkwood, O’Fallon, MO, St. Peters and Wentzville.
To help spread the word, 99.1 Joy FM will be at one of the Walmart locations on Saturday, June 16. In addition, St. Louis Green and Landmark Signs will be on hand to support the effort. Organizers for the Fenton-based Shoeman Water Projects are looking for additional volunteers to help move shoes. Volunteers can sign up directly at www.ksoutreach.com. For more information contact the Shoeman at 636-751-8197.
“Partnering with Shoeman Water Projects is a natural fit for Kingdom Seeds Outreach,” said Rochelle Weidinger, co-founder. “We have seen the despair in people’s eyes that lack the resources of having fresh drinking water. Shoeman Water Projects collects an estimated one million shoes each year taking up space in people’s closets and turns them into water wells or well drilling equipment.”
Shoeman Water Projects has distributed more than two million pairs of shoes since 2008. Any shoes collected that cannot be used are recycled.