Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009
Shoeman turns old shoes into fresh drinking water
O'Fallon resident John Grissom collected 350 pairs of shoes, which will eventually become drinking water for people in Kenya.
Grissom donated the used shoes to Pastor George Hutchings' Kenya Water Project. Hutchings, better known as the "Shoeman," sells the shoes at 35 cents a pound and uses the money to purchase water drilling equipment to drill fresh water in Kenya. "Many people are dying there," Grissom said from a lack of fresh water.
The shoes wind up in South America where people can buy them for pennies, according to Hutchings' Web site www.shoeman.org. "A lot of people there don’t have shoes," Grissom said, "and the rate of disease is high because they pick it up through the soil. Anything to cover their feet will help prevent that."
Shoes considered by Americans as past their prime, Grissom said, could potentially save the life of someone in South America. "Someone who doesn't have any shoes at all would be happy" with your old shoes, he said.
Grissom's two children help organize the donated shoes, rubber band the pairs together and box them for pick up by the Shoeman.
This marks Grissom's first year collecting shoes for the Kenya Water Project through his parish First United Methodist Church in O'Fallon. "I'm always busy doing things," said the stay-at-home father of two, whether helping at a school or participating in a community project.
Pastor Joel Catlin described Grissom as someone "who is always giving himself away to other people. He's an example in my mind of what a Christian ought to be," Catlin said.
Grissom was drawn to the Kenya Water Project, because, he said, you're not only helping people in Kenya but South America as well with something that you normally throw out. "It's a green project," he said, "and it also helps two other places that don't have the luxuries we have here in the states."
Grissom is eager to continue to help gather shoes for the Kenya Water Project. Starting in January, the O'Fallon YMCA on Seven Hills Road will be a collection site for the project, and shoes can also be dropped off at First United Methodist Church in O'Fallon.
"I'm willing to work with any organization that would like to have a box," Grissom said. "I'm looking to collect as many shoes as possible."
Hutchings' goal in 2009 was to collect 200,000 pairs of shoes. In 2008, 154,000 pairs were collected, which yielded enough money to purchase three drilling rigs to take to Kenya, according to www.shoeman.org.
Any type of shoe may be donated including tennis shoes, high heels, boots, flip flops and dress shoes.
For more information about John Grissom's efforts, contact him at 618-363-9004.