G-E school collects soles for souls

Published 9:33 am Thursday, March 1, 2012

Collection bins for used tennis shoes are placed in the Glenville-Emmons elementary and high school as part the GreenSneakers program. Through the program tennis shoes are donated to be reused or recycled. -- Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

GLENVILLE — The Student Council at Glenville-Emmons Elementary School is leading an effort to raise money to help people in needy countries, to help the planet and to help the school itself, all with one program.

In November, Principal Sue Gillard received an email message about a program called the EcoChallenge for Education by GreenSneakers, a charitable program run by a nonprofit organization, and decided it was a good program.

“It is something the elementary kids can understand,” Gillard said. “Just by bringing tennis shoes, they can help the organization, rather than throwing them in the trash.”

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Through the program, schools in Minnesota can earn up to 50 cents a pound for collecting used tennis shoes.

“It’s good for the kids to help others,” Gillard said. “And I think everybody has old tennis shoes at home to get rid of. It’s one way to help and it doesn’t cost any money.”

Gillard said the shoes can be in any condition. Shoes in wearable condition are shipped to countries in need and those that are unwearable are recycled.

Gillard said at first she was reluctant to sign up, but after learning that a media partner from GreenSneakers will pick up the collection and there is no hassle or cost of shipping or delivering of the shoes to their location in Fergus Falls, she was all in.

“The students were excited to see how many pairs we could get,” Gillard said. “Some of them started bringing sneakers the next day.”

Gillard said she has been encouraging students to tie the laces of shoes together so that the pairs will stay together during the collection and transport phase.

GreenSneakers supplied the school with planet-friendly bags to collect the shoes in.

According to GreenSneakers, shoes that end up in the landfill and not recycled or reused can take 50 to 1,000 years to break down.

Gillard estimates between the collection bins placed in the elementary and high school so far, they have collected a dozen bags worth of shoes.

The program will continue until the end of Earth Day on April 22. The money raised will allow the student council to help pay for things such as admission fees for field trips and treats for the schools’ character trait program.

For more information on the EcoChallenge for Education visit greensneakers.org.