• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Students donate more than 1,400 pairs of shoes for clean drinking water

Students in Woodford County High School’s Y-Club led an effort to collect more than 1,400 pairs of shoes in support of ongoing projects to provide safe drinking water for people living in third-world countries. Y-Club members Allison Miller and Christine Slover were both surprised by the total – 1,428 donated pairs of shoes – collected in just five days, Jan. 30 to Feb. 3. “It shows that we really care about the world,” said Christine, a 16-year-old junior. “And it shows how charitable we are as a community.” She said students and adults made donations to the shoe drive. Christine and Allison said having the shoe drive during spirit week also boosted donations. “By linking it with spirit week,” said Allison, “we got more than we ever thought that we would.” She described the global service project as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of less-fortunate families. “In this small of a community,” said Allison, “you don’t really get exposed to problems that other people are facing. And so we thought this would be a good way not only to make a difference, but also show people (that) not everyone is fortunate to have clean drinking water, which is something people (living in this country) take for granted.” Representing an African country at a recent Kentucky United Nations Assembly (KUNA) – a three-day experiential learning conference for students – opened the eyes of Y-Club members to the lack of safe drinking water in the developing world. “We’re taking what we learn from KUNA and we’re using it to actually impact the places we talk about, which is pretty awesome,” said Allison, a 16-year-old sophomore. Y-Clubs in schools across Kentucky organize shoe drives to support WaterStep, a nonprofit organization based in Louisville that sells the donated new and gently used shoes to raise dollars for clean drinking-water projects in third-world countries. The donated shoes are shipped overseas, where they are “sold in developing countries for very, very inexpensive amounts. And then that money is actually put to work in that country to build wells and provide clean water sources for people in these developing nations,” said Y-Club sponsor Sioux Finney. “Never in our wildest dreams,” she added, “did we think we’d have over 1,400 pairs of shoes come in – in just five days.” Besides organizing and promoting a successful shoe drive, she said Y-Club’s 35 students learned how a lack of clean drinking water leads to higher death rates, especially among children.

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