LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A group of Jefferson County Public Schools students have teamed with a Louisville organization to bring safe, pure water to children clear across the world.
While turning shoes into water is no easy feat, students and staff at Middletown Elementary have been doing just that in hopes of helping others in need.
One after another Monday, crews worked to load heavy boxes and bags of shoes into a van waiting outside the elementary school.
"The mayor had an initiative to Give-A-Day," began Middletown Elementary School Instructor Michele Mason, "and our student teachers came up with the idea of doing the WaterStep program."
"We collect the shoes," said WaterStep Assistant Shoe Director Jennifer Poe. "We sell them to an exporter and the funds that we receive from the exporter go toward our water projects, trips, training, over head costs. Just about anything that we do on a day-to-day basis to save lives with safe water."
The fundraiser aimed to help WaterStep, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing safe and sustainable water solutions in underdeveloped areas, continue helping people in need regardless of their location.
"We had a video that showed the different countries," said Middletown Elementary School Principal Patty Salyer. "That was the first time I think that they had seen that there were actually people that had to walk miles to get jugs of water."
That image had an everlasting impression on students like 10-year-old Annabelle O'Neal. The fourth-grader found herself so inspired, she took her shoe collection one step further.
"I was going door to door," said O'Neal.
While O'Neal said she collected nearly 40 pairs of shoes on her own, Mason's second graders surpassed their classroom goal all together.
"Our whole entire class got 185 pair and our whole school got over 1,000," remarked one of Mason's students.
Turns out, in just one school week the Middletown Bulldogs had nearly doubled that number.
"We set a goal for ourselves for 1,000 and so they went over it by about 800," said Salyer. "I was really proud of all our kids."
"We're saving lives with the safe water," said Poe. "We're keeping the shoes out of the landfill and they're going on somebody's feet that needs them. So, it's win-win all the way around."
Students are being rewarded for their hard work with a uniform free day on May 1. To donate or learn more about WaterStep, click here.
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