A fundraiser with plenty of soleSkillsUSA is collecting old tennis shoes. Their goal is to collect at least 1,000 pounds.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
A group of District 196 students hopes to perform a new kind of alchemy with a slightly stinky fundraising project. They don’t want to turn lead to gold. They want to turn sneakers into scholarships.
The students are members of the SkillsUSA program at Dakota Ridge School, and for three weeks they’re collecting all of the old shoes they can get their hands on. They’ve got them stuffed into boxes and bags, 400 pounds worth at last report. Their goal is to collect at least 1,000 pounds.
At roughly three pairs per pound, the numbers add up quickly.
The shoes will go to the GreenSneakers Eco Challenge, a Minnesota-based program that will give any shoes that still have some life in them to people in need. Shoes that are more hole than sole will be recycled.
SkillsUSA advisor Carrie Wilson-Smith said her students liked the idea of helping the planet while helping themselves.
The students will receive 50 cents for every pound of shoes they turn in. If they finish first among the participating schools they will receive an additional $5,000. The second-place team will receive $2,000.
“We’re really doing it to help the environment, and the financial reward for students in the district,” Wilson-Smith said. “A lot of our students couldn’t afford to go to college. I know there are a lot of students who couldn’t afford to pay for books.”
The students have reached out to the rest of the school district and to the community at large to collect shoes. A family and consumer science class at one district school held a drive to help the group. Some of the students have gone around their neighborhood looking for shoes.
This is the third year Dakota Ridge’s SkillsUSA team has done a community service project. Two years ago they collected bicycles for people in need. Last year they built and stocked bookshelves for the Rosemount Family Resource Center. They have since refilled the shelves.
The projects are part of a competition. The SkillsUSA students will present their work at a state competition in hopes of advancing to nationals.
For now, though, the focus is on shoes and on the benefits they could bring.
“It would be really exciting if they got top prize,” Wilson-Smith said. “That would be so fabulous, and that would just mean so many more students would get scholarships. That’s what we want.”