Leonard PTO Treasurer Jade Kindermann and her son Kevin, a fourth-grader at Leonard, with some of the 475 pairs of shoes that have already been donated. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
Leonard Elementary’s PTO is looking to turn bags of unwanted and unused shoes into piles of cash to benefit the school and its students.
From now through Feb. 4, the group is conducting a shoe drive in conjunction with Funds2Orgs.
Funds2Orgs is a for-profit social enterprise company that partners with nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, businesses and others to plan and implement fund-raising campaigns, while providing economic opportunities for people in developing nations and helping the environment.
The way it all works is simple.
Folks are being asked to donate pairs of shoes and sneakers (including cleats), both new and gently used, to the PTO.
Collection sites include Leonard Elementary (335 E. Elmwood Rd.), Addison Township Public Library (1400 Rochester Rd.) and You, Me, and Bubble Tea (40 N. Washington St.) in downtown Oxford.
No single shoes will be accepted – only pairs.
Funds2Orgs will pay Leonard’s PTO based on the total weight of the shoes it collects.
“We get 40 cents per pound,” explained PTO Treasurer Jade Kindermann. “It’s a great way to help out a small school and it clears out your closet.”
Every 25 pairs of shoes will generate approximately $10 for the PTO.
“Twenty-five hundred pairs of shoes, at 40 cents a pound, equals $1,000,” said Kindermann, who’s new to the PTO board. “That is our goal.”
Leonard’s PTO uses the money it raises throughout the year to pay for things such as field trips, assemblies, student planners for second-through-fifth-graders, new library books, March is Reading Month activities, fifth-grade graduation celebrations and keepsakes, office supplies and appreciation lunches and gifts for teachers, staff and volunteers.
It was Kindermann’s idea to partner with Funds2Orgs. She saw an advertisement for the company in PTO Today magazine.
“I was trying to think of some new, creative ways to do fund-raising,” said Kindermann, mother of fourth-grader Kevin and kindergartner Liam.
“I thought it would be good for our school because it didn’t involve anyone having to make a monetary donation. They just donate their old, used shoes. No money has to come out of their pocket.”
To date, the PTO has collected 475 pairs.
“We’ve had pretty good participation so far, but I’m a little concerned we’re not going to hit the 2,500 (mark),” Kindermann admitted.
For folks who are unable to reach one of the aforementioned collection sites, Kindermann indicated PTO members are more than willing to make pickups.
“I went down to Royal Oak and picked up shoes from somebody. I’ve gone to Troy to pick up shoes,” she said. “Somebody from the PTO will come pick them up.”
Those who need a pickup can notify the PTO via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funds2Orgs ships the donated footwear to micro-entrepreneurs, or small business owners, in developing countries who clean, repair and repurpose the shoes, then sell them for a fraction of their original price, but still enough to earn a profit.
This provides them with a steady source of income to feed, clothe, house and educate their families, build a savings and eventually, lift themselves out of poverty through economic sustainability as opposed to handouts.
“(Donating shoes is) a good way to recycle what you have while helping somebody else,” Kindermann said.
It also prevents discarded shoes from ending up in landfills where they take up space, take decades to decompose and in the process, can potentially do harm to the environment.
“In the U.S. alone, approximately 630 million pairs of shoes are thrown away every year,” according to the Funds2Orgs website. “The materials used to manufacture a pair of shoes are created from chemical compounds, the kind that will create health hazards if left to disintegrate openly or in landfills.”
For more information about Funds2Orgs, please visit www.funds2orgs.com.