Shoes collected in Heartland will help buy water purification systems in Haiti

For the past two weeks a Kirksville church collected gently used and new shoes for a shoe drive. On Tuesday morning, the shoes began their trek back to St. Louis.

Hamilton Street Baptist Church teamed up with â??Shoeman Water Projectsâ?? out of St. Louis for the drive.

The Shoeman Water Projects is a ministry of Eagle Wings Ministry, a non-profit charity out of St. Louis.

Once the shoes are collected, the charity turns around and sells them to an exporter. The money from those sales buys water drilling rigs and water purification systems for countries like Haiti and Kenya.

The organization has been around since 2008, so where did they come up with the idea of turning shoes into water?

â??I was invited to Living Waters International in Houston, Texas and I learned how to drill for water, and on my way back I said, oh no, with knowledge comes a responsibility,â?? said George â??Shoemanâ?? Hutchings of Shoeman Water Projects. â??Iâ??ve been in Kenya for 10 years. We've delivered babies with no water, no receiving blankets, and no suction devices. So we started the shoes to water, and itâ??s been quite successful. We're able to keep shoes out of landfills, put them on people's feet and provide water for people.â??

Since the start of the organization, the charity has accomplished a lot.

â??We've collected more than 2,000,000 pounds of shoes. We've kept them out of the landfill, we've put them on people's feet and we've bought four drilling rigs to be used in Kenya and Haiti,â?? Hutchings said. â??I think we are providing water for about 200,000 people, all paid for with used shoes. I think that's a hoot.â??

The shoes collected on Tuesday from Kirksville will help provide water purification systems that will go to Haiti.

â??We are sending a group this month to Haiti to work with hospitals that have water but itâ??s polluted,â?? Hutchings said. â??So we will be able to purify the water at hospitals in Haiti with this load of shoes, it's a fun project.

Lean more about the Shoeman Water Projects and how to donate by clicking here.