Volunteer Spotlight: Shoe drive benefits church, global entrepreneurs

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 3/30/2019 10:25:22 PM

THETFORD — The First Congregational Church in Thetford wants to help people in the Upper Valley spring clean by collecting used shoes that may otherwise be thrown away.

The church has organized a fundraiser aiming to collect 7,500 pairs of used shoes of all styles and sizes. The church gets paid for collecting the shoes, which are then donated to impoverished entrepreneurs who have microbusinesses in Haiti and Africa. They repair the shoes and sell them to others in their community.

“This piqued my interest because it meshes with our church’s mission, which is to help those who are struggling,” Charlie Buttrey, a church member who is organizing the drive, wrote in an email. “On one hand, we raise money for the church, on the other hand we help others.”

Buttrey said spring is the perfect time for the fundraiser because people are cleaning out their homes.

“Think about all the shoes in your mudroom or closet that you haven’t used,” he said.

All types of shoes can be donated, as long as they are not wet or damaged. Normal wear is fine.

Buttrey set the goal of collecting 7,500 pairs, which would raise about $3,000 for First Congregational, the oldest continuously operating church in Vermont. The goal is ambitious, he said. In order to achieve it, the church has set up collection boxes throughout the Upper Valley.

In addition to looking for donations, Buttrey is looking for additional drop-off locations. The church also likely will need space to store the shoes before they are picked up in May. A basement where the shoes are being stored is already filling up.

“The major challenge is, ‘Where are we going to put all these shoes?’ ” Buttrey said.

Thetford drop-off locations for shoe donations include First Congregational Church, 2596 Route 113; Thetford Academy, 304 Academy Road; and Thetford Elementary School, 2689 Route 113. Additionally, Oxbow Union High School, 36 Oxbow Drive, Bradford, Vt.; Stateline Sports, 22 Bridge St., West Lebanon; the Borwell Building at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon; and Mascoma Valley Regional High School, 27 Royal Road, Canaan, also are accepting donations.

Buttrey also will pick up shoe donations. Arrange pickup by contacting Buttrey at 802-785-4005 or charliebuttrey@yahoo.com.

“Now’s the chance to clean out your closet; help microbusinesses in places as far-flung as Haiti and Togo; assist the church to advance its mission of helping needy people locally; and to stand with migrants, refugees and the marginalized beyond our community,” Buttrey said. “It’s a win-win-win!”

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