WAUKEE, Iowa - An old pair of shoes in your closet could be the foundation for a successful business in a developing country.
That's because Waukee Christian Church is collecting shoes - old and new - from the community to donate to the non-profit organization, Soles4Souls. The group delivers these shoes to developing countries, like Haiti and Tanzania, where locals are trained to operate a micro-business selling them along the street.
Reverend Sue Woods of Waukee Christian Church says these donated shoes have multiple benefactors - from those who create stable businesses and lives from selling them, to the people who are able to put something on their feet.
"The other thing it does is reduce the waste in landfills here in the United States," she said. "Every year 400 million shoes are thrown away into landfills. And shoes are made from chemical compounds that don't break down in landfills, so that creates a hazardous waste over time."
Shoes in poor condition are still welcome donations, as they can be melted down to create soles for new shoes. Shoes in fair to good condition will be sold by the new businesses in these countries.
The church launched this project in 2014, where they collected about 7,200 pairs of shoes. This year, Rev. Woods says she expects to see that number skyrocket, as they've had people dropping off donations over the course of the past year since hearing about last year's success.
The church also has new partnerships, including the Waukee YMCA, the City of Waukee, and businesses and groups in other cities across the Metro.
You can donate your old (or new) shoes to the cause between now and July 31, either by dropping them off at Waukee Christian Church, located at the corner of Highway 6 and T Avenue in Waukee, or at the Waukee YMCA.