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Mercy Community Launches ‘ShoeBox’ Recycling Program

Saint Mary Home is collecting worn shoes and connecting with their 'SoleMates' through the 'ShoeBoxRecycling' program. Photo credit: Katie Cavenaugh

The Mercy Community launched its ‘ShoeBox’ Recycling Program, donating previously worn shoes to those in need and forging a connection with the recipients. 

Saint Mary Home is collecting worn shoes and connecting with their 'SoleMates' through the 'ShoeBoxRecycling' program. Photo credit: Katie Cavenaugh

Saint Mary Home is collecting worn shoes and connecting with their ‘SoleMates’ through the ‘ShoeBoxRecycling’ program. Photo credit: Katie Cavanaugh

By Katie Cavanaugh

Members of the Mercy Community have contributed shoes to the ‘ShoeBox’ Recycling Program in the hopes of helping those in need within the global community.

Residents, staff, and the surrounding community contributed a total of 220 pairs of shoes, with more trickling in every day. These shoes have been packed up and distributed around the world via www.ShoeBoxRecyling.com.

The website enables each recipient to connect to the shoes’ previous owner, a person the website refers to as their “SoleMate.” If the recipient is from a different country, the website will translate their “SoleNotes” into English, enabling them to establish a pen pal type of relationship.

Ellen Sanders-Nirenstein, RN-BC, director of Community Benefit Ministry, was a very big proponent of the project.

According to Sanders, the residents of Saint Mary Home, a skilled nursing facility that is part of the Mercy Community, were very enthusiastic about the project.

“The residents had a great time with it,” said Sanders-Nirenstein. “Even those who aren’t able to physically bring shoes to the drop box were able to donate and be a part of it.”

This project is beneficial to the global community in more ways than one. In addition to helping those who cannot afford shoes, the drive is protecting the environment. “It doesn’t recycle by chemically reducing the shoes. It reuses the actual shoes,” said Sanders-Nirenstein.

The residents of Saint Mary Home are excited about the initiative, and are looking forward to receiving their “SoleMate’s” responses. “We’ve put up maps throughout the building and marked West Hartford with a pin,” said Sanders-Nirenstein. “We’ll be marking the spots on the map where the shoes are with pins if we hear back from someone.”

According to Sanders-Nirenstein, the residents will then gather in groups to learn about the various countries that have received the shoes in order to get a better feel for their cultures. On the off chance that no one responds, Saint Mary’s will hold an event celebrating all of the countries that received the donations.

For now, everyone can reflect on the positive nature of the project, and wait for the “SoleNotes” to roll in.

This project is a reminder that one person’s old possession can be another person’s saving grace. “Each pair of shoes has a history. Each one had a life in it, and it’s going to help another life.” said Sanders-Nirenstein. “We are repairing our world one pair of shoes at a time.”

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