Dec. 14, 2009
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
Shoe drive enables needy children to run on
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. �- Starting out with baby steps, Jennifer Reedy, an exercise and rehabilitative sciences major from Albion, had hoped to collect a few shoes to recycle the soles. Instead, her campus shoe drive produced a stampede of support and 360 pair of shoes for orphans in Central America, Europe and the Middle East.
"The response shows that college students really do care and want to help," Reedy said.
The shoes have been boxed and mailed to The Shoe Bank, a non-profit organization that provides shoes to thousands of people annually, primarily children in the U.S. and abroad. Reedy said she was informed the shoes will be delivered to school children in Senegal, to orphanages in Rumania, El Salvador, Guatemala and to refugee camps in Jordan for young Iraqi girls.
Reedy, a member of the RunClub at SRU, launched the shoe drive at the beginning of the semester with a different goal. She planned to collect shoes for the soles, which can be recycled and used in running tracks and tennis and basketball courts.
"As I researched the issue, there were not many places that were taking shoes for recycling," she said. "I started researching different options and came across The Shoe Bank. They collected shoes for the needy."
Many of the shoes were contributed from students in the RunClub, Campus Crusade for Christ and the Alpha Sigma Phi social fraternity at SRU. Students donated running, snow and casual shoes, as well as a few pairs of children's boots.
Jeff Lynn, SRU professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences, advises the RunClub, which promotes health and fitness. Students and faculty meet twice a week for a jog around campus. Lynn said 115 students and six faculty members ran at least once this summer. Reedy has served as the student coordinator of the club for the past 18 months.
"When I first started talking about the shoe drive for children, I took the approach of asking everyone to imagine what their day would be like without shoes and made them aware that many people around the world do not have shoes," Reedy said. "Making everyone realize this motivated students to help in any way they could."
Lynn credited Reedy and the caring nature of SRU students for the program's success.
"All semester long, she told people about the shoe drive," he said. "Coming up with the idea in the first place is a testimony to the type of students we have here at Slippery Rock University. The fact that other students responded is fantastic. One student took the leadership role and other students got right onboard."
Lynn said the program demonstrates that many students want to help other people. The exercise science program paid the postage as a show of support.
"If there are people who are down on college students, they are not dealing with SRU students. Sending shoes to needy children was Jen's realization. I was going to go with whatever she wanted. She realized she'd rather put shoes on the feet of those in need. I thought it was brilliant."
The Shoe Bank was founded in 1989 in Dallas to put shoes on a few homeless men living on the streets. It currently provides men's and women's athletic and men's dress shoes to 20,000 people ever year.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.