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Matoaka Elementary School is hosting a shoe drive that will simultaneously raise money for the school’s PTA and benefit people in need in developing countries.
The initiative is being run through Funds2Orgs, an organization that facilitates shoe drives and other unique fundraisers for nonprofits, schools, churches and civics groups across the country.
Kelly Parrish, the PTA’s vice president of fundraising, heard about Funds2Orgs from a friend and proposed Matoaka host its own shoe drive through the organization.
Funds2Orgs has a nontraditional approach to fundraising and philanthropy based on a “teach a man to fish” mentality that values fostering self-sufficiency over making outright donations.
The organization collects shoes from drives around the U.S. and transports them to hubs in 26 developing countries, where it sells them to a few people within a given community for a nominal fee. Those individuals then clean, repair and repurpose the shoes and sell them at an affordable price to their larger community, thus providing the larger population with something they need and a smaller subset of that population with a livelihood.
The money that Funds2Orgs collects from the fee paid by its partnering entrepreneurs is ultimately diverted back to the participating nonprofit, school, church or civic group that provided the shoes at a rate of 40 cents per pound donated.
Matoaka PTA president Robin Bennett is excited about the money the school will be able to raise through the shoe drive, most of which will go toward funding the many cultural arts programs the PTA puts on each year, but she also appreciates the message the drive sends to students.
“It’s about giving back. If the shoes aren’t needed anymore, instead of being thrown away they are given to people who need them,” Bennett said. “It’s both giving back to their community and to other communities.”
The drive, which began Sept. 15 and will run through Nov. 15, has already received more than 900 pairs of shoes ranging from flip-flops to cleats to winter boots. The success of the fundraiser already has organizers looking ahead to future years.
“I can definitely see us doing this annually,” Bennett said. “Or even again in the spring.”