Man leads local effort to collect shoes for clean water project

Monday, August 30, 2010
Photo by Linda Redeffer George “The Shoe Man” Hutchings continues his effort to collect new and used shoes to sell to raise money to build water systems in third-world countries.

George Hutchings, formerly of Leopold, is involving local schools in his quest to turn shoes into water.

Zalma, Meadow Heights, Marquand, Leopold, Delta and Advance are the most recent schools to participate in the challenge to see which school can collect the most shoes between Sept. 1 and the last Friday before Thanksgiving. Hutchings' goal with ths project is to collect 100,000 shoes for his Shoeman Water Projects.

Shoeman Water Projects is a ministry of Eagle Wing Ministries, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit charity, working to alleviate as much human suffering as possible and, in the process, maximize fun with a splashing good time. Shoeman Water Projects picks up donated used and new shoes year round from businesses, churches, schools, special events and shoe drives. Once collected, the shoes are given a second life when the Shoeman exports the donated shoes to retailers in the developing world. The resale of shoes provides jobs and affordable footwear. Affordable shoes are a life saving tool as they protect the new owner's feet and overall health from foot abrasions, parasites and mites. Funds generated from the export of shoes provides well drilling rigs, water purification systems, and hand pump repair micro businesses bringing clean, fresh water to areas who don't have any.

"Since 2008 we've been working with Water for Kenya, and have drilled 140 wells providing water for 130,000 people," Hutchings said.

Anyone can help the cause by bringing in new or gently-used, wearable shoes to any of the schools or to Crown Chevrolet. The school that brings in the most shoes will receive the satisfaction of having helped someone.

"They're doing it because it's the right thing," Hutchings said. "Giving a pair of shoes helps two people: one with a pair of shoes who did not have shoes and another with water who did not have water. All are invited to join in."

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