Shoe Away Hunger collection seeks footwear as drive kicks off April 19

Posted April 17, 2019

The third annual Shoe Away Hunger Collection at UW-River Falls kicks off Friday, April 19, in an effort to gather used footwear to help the needy. Sponsored by the Chancellor’s Student Ambassadors, the annual drive will collect shoes in campus residence halls, the University Center, the Agricultural Science Building, the Kleinpell Fine Arts Building and the Falcon Center.

Kathleen Hunzer, director of the Honors Program and president of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society chapter at UWRF, said that the purpose of the drive is to collect shoes to raise money for food banks in the Twin Cities area.

Shoes and other footwear of all sizes, condition and styles may be donated at the designated bins placed all over campus. The shoes in good condition will be resold at a discounted price, while the shoes that are in rougher condition will be broken down and made into raw materials. The raw materials will then be sold to shoe companies. Money raised from the sale of shoes and raw materials will be donated to the food banks.

The Chancellor’s Student Ambassadors, the Honors Program, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Pi Sigma, and the Collegiate Honors Society are participating in the collection. Shoe Away Hunger is a national program that Good in the ‘Hood, located in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park, has adapted for the metropolitan area. Good in the ‘Hood is focused on the idea that acts of kindness are a means of “inspiring neighborhood decency and personal transformation,” according to the organization’s website.

At UWRF, the Shoe Away Hunger Collection was started in 2017 by Alanna Bram, now a senior majoring in biology and Spanish. She said about 900 pairs of shoes were donated the first year and about 1,600 pairs last year. She is anticipating more than 2,000 pairs of shoes will be donated this year.

“There’s no other shoe drive that I’ve ever heard of that will take shoes that are broken, mismatched, that would otherwise go in the landfill, so that was really special,” Bram said, “And also a lot of shoes are going all the way to other countries and benefitting children all across the world, which is great, but even the fact that it is so close to our community, that was something that I was focused on.”

Bram began the fundraiser as a one-woman project. She said she hopes to expand the fundraiser beyond campus.

“Last year we had all the dorms, and we had some of the academic buildings, the Falcon Center, and we had Family Fresh, so that was our first step into community,” Bram said. “This year we do have hopes of greater community engagement with the River Falls area.”

Stratton Hall’s resident assistant, Jessica Lackner, said that the shoe drive has been successful throughout her floor. As a social work major, she says that it is important to her to be able to help not only students in her building and floor but throughout the community as well. “I’ve found that residents really enjoy the events that are for charity,” Lackner said, “like Shoe Away Hunger.”