Turning donated shoes into drinkable fresh water would take one heck of a water purification system. A feat Rumplestiltskin might be so lucky to achieve. But George P. Hutchings, founder of Shoeman Water Projects, is doing just that.
Through a non-profit arm of Eagle Wing Ministries – founded by Hutchings – Shoeman Water Projects collects donated used and new shoes from businesses, churches, schools, special events, and shoe drives. These shoes are then shipped to retailers in the developing world, and resold as affordable footwear. Since there is a definite need for footwear in developing worlds, to protect against all forms of foot injuries and illnesses, this is a true act of altruism. But, the story doesn’t end here. The proceeds of these sales are then donated to provide water purification systems, well drilling rigs, and businesses that bring fresh water to regions in need of potable water supply.
Hutchings, who goes by the moniker of “The Shoeman” is a former Marine, and served in Vietnam. He founded Eagle Wing Ministries in 1994 as a non-profit charity dedicated to humanitarian and educational opportunities. Since 1998, Eagle Wing Ministries has supplied Kenya with 21,000 meals for orphans, and $2 million in medical supplies, dental labs, neurosurgeons for pediatric facial reconstructions. But in ten years of traveling back to Kenya, Hutchings noted that without clean water, all other aid would, “be a momentary stop-gap”. Thus, Shoeman Water Projects was born.
Since Shoeman Water Projects began, in August of 2008, the project has collected over 1.4 million pairs of shoes resulting in the purchase of 4 water-well drilling rigs, which has dug more than 250 wells serving 200,000 people. Additionally, water purification systems have been installed and well pump repairs serving schools, clinics, and villages across the globe have been funded – including dry areas in Kenya, and Haiti.
If you would like to make a donation, please visit http://www.shoeman.org/. While there, click the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr icons to connect with them on social media. You can also search by zip code to find the nearest shoe drop off location on their website.