Soles for Souls gathers shoes for people in need

Jennifer Eisenbeis, Breaking News Editor

Maternal tetanus is a preventable disease that is prevalent in Latin American countries. The lack of medical treatment causes an infection called maternal tetanus. To help cure and prevent the disease, Key Club is getting the school involved in a project called Soles for Souls. In this event, that takes place from May 9 to May 30, people are supposed to donate shoes to help people who need them in Latin American countries. This prevents people from contracting the disease, and also treats the people who currently have it. 

“Soles for Souls is a project where we are collecting shoes to help end neonatal/maternal tetanus,” Vice President Kortney McQuarters said. “We collect the shoes and they are sent to countries like Haiti and Guatemala where businesses are created to refurbish the shoes and sell them to their communities for a cheaper price. The profits from the sales go toward vaccines, but also, by providing people with affordable footwear, they are eliminating risk factors for the possibility of contracting tetanus. The whole goal of the project is to help create a healthier atmosphere for people who are living in poor conditions.”

A person gets maternal tetanus by cutting themselves on rusty metal. Because of the inadequate medical care, the wound ends up getting infected. The shoes that are sent to these countries are given to the people who live there to protect them from cutting their feet and contracting tetanus.

“People in these countries don’t own sufficient shoes to wear, so they walk around barefoot. They step on rusty nails or pipes and that cuts their feet,” secretary of the Key Club Zeinab Torabi said. “Because  they don’t have the proper medicine or vaccine to prevent and cure the wound, it gets infected, and they end up getting tetanus. The shoes given to the people in these countries will help protect their feet, and prevent them from scraping or wounding their feet on a tetanus causing object.”

Preventing tetanus is not the only thing that benefits from shoe donation, as the environment and the economy is benefitted as well.

The project is giving people jobs in the refurbishing center. These people have more money to spend in other areas of their lives which is helpful because it promotes growth in other aspects of the economy,” McQuarters said. “The average person goes through at least two pairs of sneakers a year that go into landfills. That takes up space in landfills, and since most of these shoes have rubber components, they take many years to decompose. If you incinerate the shoes, that not only wastes nonrenewable energy resources, but the rubber also releases harmful chemicals that contribute to global warming. So by recycling shoes, we not only are saving space in landfills, but we are also cutting down on harmful emissions contributing to global warming in our environment.”

The inspiration for the event came from local Kiwanis Club members, who passed it down to the the Key Club.

“This is a statewide project for Key Club,” McQuarters said. “Our goal as a new executive board is to become more involved in the community so we wanted to strengthen our ties as much as possible with the residents in Fenton. This project helps with that because we are reaching out to the community and asking them to help donate to the project and give a pair of shoes to the cause. We are going to the SRTs to spread the word and also getting the elementary schools involved as well by putting donation boxes in their main offices. ”

The high school band concert is also going to be involved in the donations, as each person who is going to the concert is encouraged to donate a pair of shoes to help the cause.

“We will have a collection box at the concert, and will be collecting shoes,” President Riley Wilson said. “When the concert was promoted, we also encouraged people to bring their gently used shoes to donate to Soles for Souls. We advertised what the program was, what the goal of it is, which is to eliminate maternal/neonatal tetanus, and also what the benefits to donating shoes are.”

The Key Club is going to be collecting shoes until May 30. In order for a pair of shoes to be eligible to donate, they must have no holes in them. Every 25 pairs of shoes saves five lives from neonatal tetanus.