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Feb 26, 2012 by Cynthia Reason Etobicoke Guardian

Youth from Richview Baptist Church are hoping to turn Etobicoke’s old shoes into water.

Teens from the church will be collecting gently used shoes until April 1 to raise money towards their ongoing mission trips to drill water wells in Nicaragua.

“We’re looking for about 40,000 or 50,000 pairs of shoes – and everybody has them in their closets,” said Paul Payne, leader of Richview’s youth group. “We don’t want new shoes, we want people to dig out their old shoes and turn them into living water. We can make their shoes actually pour water.”

The benefits of the fundraiser, Payne said, are multi-pronged.

First of all, by donating their old shoes rather than throwing them out, Etobians will be able to divert them from the landfill.

Secondly, all shoes collected will be sold to an Otttawa-based organization that purchases used shoes at 60 cents a pound, then ships them down to Central America. From there, they are distributed in bulk to the unemployed in villages so that they can start up their own shoe-selling businesses.

And thirdly, with the profits from their collected shoes, Richview youth plan to buy plane tickets back to Nicaragua, where for years they have sent groups to dig wells for the less fortunate. A tractor trailer load of shoes (about 40,000 to 50,000 shoes), Payne said, could net the group upwards of $20,000 towards the purchase of tickets for this August’s trip.

“We’re always trying to see how we can invest in our youth and do something good. With this shoe drive now we’re providing jobs for people down south in Central America, we’re recycling old shoes, and we’re using the money to help provide clean drinking water,” he said. “So it’s a really good fit, I think. Your shoes can save people.”

Anyone wishing to donate their gently used shoes can drop them off at Richview Baptist Church, 1548 Kipling Ave., every Tuesday night from 6:45 to 7:15 p.m. and every Sunday morning from 9:45 to 10:15 a.m. until April 1.

Shoes that will not be accepted include damaged footwear, winter and rubber boots, slippers, flip-flops, and ice and roller skates.

For more information, call Payne at 416-706-4510.