Worn out shoes otherwise headed for the trash can are being used to beautify the South Side.
Plant Pride on Parsons is holding a shoe drive through April 25 that will raise funds for Parsons Avenue plants while benefiting developing nations and keeping old shoes out of local landfills.
Sherri Palmer, program manager for Keep Columbus Beautiful, said many South Side neighborhood organizations are working to collect old tennis shoes, wing tips, boots, cleats, flip flops and other footwear for the program.
"Our minimum goal is $3,000," Palmer said. "I think we will do great."
The money will go toward sustaining the 126 flower boxes along Parsons Avenue.
Plant Pride has organized a committee that set up drop off boxes at several spots throughout the neighborhood, including Lincoln Recreation Center, St. Ladislas Church, Schiller Recreation Center and the German Village Meeting Haus.
Ted Welch, who's organizing the drive for his Edgewood Acres neighborhood, said he has yet to sort through his inventory to decide which shoes he'll donate but figures he's got about five pairs of shoes with which he's willing to part.
"Hopefully we'll be able to clean out our closets," he said. "We haven't been paying that much attention to footwear."
Gently used shoes are preferred, but footwear of any condition will be accepted, Palmer said.
Keep Columbus Beautiful is working with Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that offers fundraising projects with humanitarian impact. The group, based in Orlando, Fla., pays 40 cents per pound for all of the shoes collected, so 300 bags with 25 pairs each will net around $3,000 in fundraising. Funds2Orgs then sends the shoes to microenterprises in developing countries for repair and reselling.
Tom Henderson, chief fundraising strategist for Funds2Orgs, said since the company was launched last April it has completed 1,000 fundraisers.
"There are hundreds of millions of pairs of shoes that go into landfills every year and in some of these developing countries they're used to help create a sustainable economy," Henderson said.