St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Watertown recently wrapped up a service project aimed at lending a hand — or perhaps a foot, in this case — to those in need.
The church collected 686 pairs of shoes, or 835 pounds, to donate to Soles4Souls, a national organization that donates shoes to those who need them across the United States and in other parts of the world. The organization is particularly active in donating shoes in the aftermath of natural disasters, and was formed in response to the 2004 tsunami in Asia.
Cherie Greenhagen, a St. Paul’s member who helped organize the drive as part of a women’s group service project, said she was caught off guard by how well the members of her church responded to the collection effort.
“It was a great service project, and it was amazing how the community came together and brought in their shoes,” Greenhagen said. “It was something so easy, but it turned into a great event.”
The service project came about when 30 women from the church attended an annual retreat, the theme of which this year was “Beautiful Feet.” The group wanted to find a service project to fit the theme, and settled on Soles4Souls.
The collection effort lasted about 5 weeks, and organizers originally figured they might be able to take the shoes to several of the dropoff locations in the Twin Cities. However, each location accepts no more than 30 pairs of shoes, and this particular effort quickly soared way past that number.
“When they started coming in, we were like “Oh gosh, we’re going to have to ship them because there is no way we’re going to be able to haul them to enough locations to drop these off,” Greenhagen said. “It was a great experience. It’s amazing how many people have that many pairs of shoes sitting in their closet that can help other people in need. It was really nice to see that.”
To ship the 835 pounds of shoes — which took up 38 boxes — it cost more than $300. To cover the shipping costs, the church hosted a dinner called Harvesting4Souls and raised well over the amount needed for shipping the shoes.