TICONDEROGA - Needy people around the world will benefit from a Ticonderoga Middle School class project.
The seventh grade "Survival 101" class recently joined with Shoes4Souls to collect 701 pairs of shoes to be distributed to poor people.
"It's been a really good project," teacher Rick Smith said. "Our community has been very generous and I enjoyed seeing this group of kid come together."
Students advertised the project, which asked for donations of new and used shoes to be dropped off at school, packaged the shoes, raised money to pay for shipping and wrote thank you notes.
The project actually proved more successful than anticipated. Students still need money to pay for the shipping. Donations can be left at Ti Middle School.
"I expected 40-50 pairs of shoes - maybe," said Tucker Ward, the seventh grade student who initiated the project. "I think every person in Ti brought in at least one pair of shoes. It's great."
Ward said he was thinking of a community service project when he saw a television commercial about shoe donations to the poor.
"I thought it was a good idea, so I went on the internet and found Shoes4Souls," Ward said.
Based in Nashville, Tenn., Shoes4Souls receives donations from footwear companies, retailers, churches, non-profit ministries, civic groups, schools and individuals and donates the footwear to poor around the world.
The organization formed in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that hit Southeast Asia Wayne Elsey, the founder was at home one night, watching TV and he saw a picture of a single shoe washing up on the beach. That triggered a few calls to some other executives in the footwear industry and the subsequent donation of a quarter of a million shoes to victims in the devastated countries.
A year later when Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, Elsey called the same group of friends, and they sent over a million pairs of shoes down to the gulf coast communities affected by the hurricane.
Shoes4Souls now gives away a pair of shoes every 19 seconds in 70 countries.