By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Northborough – As a member of Trinity Church’s fundraising team, Donna Miller felt she could find an alternative to throwing out her kids’ shoes when she suspected they might still be useful to people in need. As she sought new ways to raise money for the Northborough parish’s community service projects, she wanted to find a way to support not only the church’s local goals, but to assist people more globally. She came across a program called GotSneakers, and helped launch an ongoing project that raises money for Trinity while also providing shoes and other resources for people in developing countries.
“We are able to provide people in impoverished countries like Bolivia, Ukraine, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Ghana, Nicaragua and Panama athletic shoes with a lot of life left in them,” Miller said. “While our goal is to collect as many pairs of athletic shoes to be able to pass on to these folks, shoes that are not wearable are also accepted and recycled to make tracks, playgrounds, and other athletic surfaces.”
Miller and her fundraising teammates began working with GotSneakers in March 2019 and have since have sent over 400 pounds of shoes around the world. The team set up a donation bin at the church and Miller has picked up shoes from people in the area. They pack the shoes in donation bags that are pre-paid by GotSneakers and send them off to their new home.
“We are a very blessed nation,” Miller said. “Most of us have things in our homes that we no longer use, need or even want. Rather than fill our landfills with more stuff, we can find ways to bless other people by giving our excess to those in need here or around the world.”
Miller is pleased to be a part of the work that helps her church while doing greater good. She’s excited by the thought of people afar gaining access to items that were collected through this effort.
“It is empowering to imagine someone somewhere using, appreciating, being blessed by receiving items that I may have considered trash,” she said. “It is humbling to have such an opportunity to serve those we will never meet, to provide for such a need.”
No end date is set for the donation project and Miller expects it to continue for as long as people keep bringing shoes. The team is seeking community members to help support the project by dropping off shoes of any kind in any condition (including sandals, flip flops, and others), barely worn to worn out.
“A pair of gently used, wearable sneakers would mean hope for someone somewhere,” Miller said.
The team also invites people interested in placing a fundraising box for their cause in their workplace, school or community center to participate. Anyone interested may email Miller at email@example.com to arrange for a box to be delivered to them