Stacking up the shoes

Community members came through for a PTA fundraiser by giving more than 3,000 pairs of shoes to a donation drive

Submitted photo Volunteers helped count out more than 100 bags of shoes collected in the Marshall Area PTA’s “Pair Up For the Future” fundraiser drive. Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to help support Marshall public schools, and the shoes will be distributed to help people in developing countries start small businesses

MARSHALL — When they started a shoe donation drive last month, members of the Marshall Area PTA were hoping for a good response. But as the donations started to stack up, PTA President Laura Jenson said there was something she didn’t count on.

“I wasn’t exactly prepared for the amount of space it would take up,” she said. Event organizers ended up needing to store the plastic bags filled with pairs of shoes in locker rooms and in corners of classrooms at Park Side Elementary.

By the end of the drive, the PTA had collected 151 bags, containing a total of 3,790 pairs of shoes that will go to help start small businesses in developing countries. Between the “Pair Up For the Future” shoe drive and the turnout at a PTA 5K run on April 10, Jenson said it’s been great to see the level of community support for local schools.

“We were looking for ways we could really connect with the community,” Jenson said. There had been successful shoe drives held in Marshall in the past, so the PTA decided to pair the fundraiser event with a spring fun run.

“We started the shoe drive back in March, on the 15th,” Jenson said. The PTA worked with Funds2Orgs, a group which helps people in countries like Haiti and Honduras start small businesses selling shoes.

“The actually redistribute the donated shoes,” Jenson said. The PTA will also receive funds of 40 cents per pound of shoes donated.

“We got some heavy bags. I’m excited to see,” she said.

The PTA collected shoe donations at each of Marshall’s public schools, as well as at community drop-offs at Hy-Vee and the Marshall Area YMCA. MPS classrooms competed to donate the most shoes, with the top two classes getting the prize of an ice cream party.

“We had a great turnout for that,” Jenson said.

The top classrooms were both from Park Side, Jenson said. In first place was Katie Hjermstad’s first- grade class, who brought in 279 pairs of shoes, and the runners-up were Karissa Jiskoot’s second-grade class, who brought in 253 pairs. However, the community drop sites also did very well. Jenson said 350 pairs of shoes were collected at the YMCA alone.

“It was definitely a huge community effort,” Jenson said.

The goal for the shoe drive was to collect 100 bags, each containing 25 pairs of shoes, Jenson said. However, the final tally of shoes exceeded the goal by more than 1,000 pairs.

The funds the PTA raises will go to help teachers and students at MPS. For example, funds can be used to purchase supplies, or help fund field trips or guest speakers. The PTA has also funded scholarships for Marshall High School Seniors, Jenson said.

The shoe drive closed on April 10, the same day the PTA held a 5K run that drew 115 registered particpants. Runners and walkers of all ages followed a route that started near Marshall Middle School and eventually looped through Independence Park. Jenson said organizers wanted to make sure community members could pass by the new Southview Elementary, which is under construction near the middle school.

“We wanted to kind of promote the new school,” and give people a look at the new building, she said. Getting community members outdoors to have fun, either through an in-person or virtual run, also felt positive after the stresses of the past year.

“It was an opportunity to get a little bit back to normal,” Jenson said. She said the PTA hopes to have a parade float at Sounds of Summer this year as well.


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