After months of collection, organizers of a local shoe drive sent off an estimated 3,000 pairs of shoes Friday.
The drive, introduced last summer by departing Hinesville Rotary Club member Deidre Howell, collected shoes for Shoeman Water Projects, which sells the shoes through microenterprise to businesses in developing countries and uses the profits to purchase wells for villages in Kenya.
“Just to know that giving away things that we didn’t want or need any more is going to help people out, it feels really good,” Howell said as she loaded the shoes at Shurlock Mini Storage on Friday morning.
The drive grew outside the Rotary Club. First Presbyterian Christian Academy collected shoes for about three months, business leaders donated space and time to the drive and the Liberty County Health Department, where Howell worked as administrator until last week, opened one of its offices to store the shoes.
C.P. Foster, a Pennsylvania man who operates his own trucking company, will haul the shoes on his flatbed semi from Hinesville to St. Louis, where Shoeman is based.
The shoes will stop in Brunswick first, where Foster will pick up a piece of machinery he will deliver to Chicago after the shoes hit their next stop.
“With me being able to pick them up, I’ll find loads going around, and I’ll find something to go along with them and take them back to St. Louis,” he explained. “And it pays for the fuel; that way, we can do it economically.”
This makes Foster’s 10th trip for Shoeman.
“I think God gave me this truck and put me in the position to do this thing and to help other people,” he said.
Coastal Georgia School of Missions Vice President Peggy Rayman said she and her husband, Joe, wish to continue the drive because they see both need and interest — though they have yet to work out the logistics.
Around Christmas, the couple went on a mission trip to Marsabit, Kenya. Rayman said they’re working on building a sister-city relationship with the area, which is in the Horn of Africa and heavily affected by drought and famine.
“It’s great to sink one well, but the need is so tremendous,” she said. “There’s no rain.”
In July, the Raymans will take another trip to the region, and they are seeking educators, humanitarians, medical personnel, entrepreneurs and cultural exchange efforts to offer their services.
Those interested in the mission trip or donating shoes can email Peggy Rayman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-968-0361