Have a spare pair? Churches collect shoes for water project

Something most of us take for granted every day could make a tremendous difference in the health and safety of people in developing countries, and the members of St. Ann’s WATCH program are offering a way to do just that.

The Peoria parish is partnering with The Iona Group in Morton again to sponsor Shoes for Water. The goal is to collect used footwear to donate to WaterStep, a nonprofit organization based in Louisville, Ky., that provides water treatment systems to communities in need around the world.

WaterStep generates the funds for these projects by selling the shoes to an exporter, which makes them available to local merchants. Not only do the people in these countries benefit from the clean water, but also from having affordable shoes to protect their feet.

Last year the members of St. Ann’s WATCH (We Are The Church) and The Iona Group hoped to collect 4,000 pairs of shoes. When all was said and done, they were able to send almost 10,000 pairs of shoes to WaterStep and are looking to exceed that number this year.

The shoe drive will run throughout the month of August and all types of shoes — “from high heels to high tops” — will be accepted. That includes flip-flops, sandals, tennis shoes, clogs, dress shoes and more. Those that are not usable will be recycled.

Drop-off locations in Peoria include St. Ann Church, 1010 S. Louisa St.; St. Jude Church, 10811 N. Knoxville Road; and St. Vincent de Paul Church, 6001 N. University St. Shoes also may be left at St. Mary of Lourdes Church, 424 Lourdes Church Road, Metamora.

Several businesses in Morton are participating as well. Among them are the Morton Public Library; branches of Morton Community Bank, Heartland Bank and Trust, and Regions Bank; Brandon Wood Retirement Community; Morton Economic Development Council, Rogy’s Learning Place; and Grace Church.

The full list of participating churches and businesses, which will be updated as more sites become available, can be found at ionagroup.com/shoes. For more information, or to volunteer to help with the collection effort, call Denise Henderson, president of the St. Ann WATCH program and coordinator for the shoe project, at (309) 263-4662.

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