Beth El Congregation of the South Hills has found a new way to raise money while helping those in need around the world, to boot.
The Conservative congregation is accepting donations of gently worn, used and new shoes. Funds2Org, the nation’s largest shoe drive fundraising company, picks up the footwear and redistributes it to microenterprise partners in 26 countries worldwide.
Cindy Platto, Beth El’s vice president of fundraising and immediate past co-chair of the social action committee, said the congregation has sought creative ways to raise funds without asking for money.
“This gives our members an opportunity to help Beth El while cleaning out their closets for a good cause,” she said.
The social action component of the program — helping underserved people around the world — aligns nicely with the committee’s mission, Platto said.
Funds2Orgs was started in 2004 by Wayne Elsey, who was motivated by the destruction caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami that year. He established the nonprofit to help groups in the United States with fundraising while making a global impact, creating job opportunities for more than 4,000 micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries who sell the shoes to support their families.
The donations, Beth El officials noted, help repurpose some of the 600 million pairs of shoes thrown away each year. The chemicals used to manufacture shoes create hazards as they disintegrate in landfills. Donating shoes eliminates that hazard, giving them a second chance to make a difference in developing nations.
“This drive is a win for all parties involved,” Platto said.
Shoes can be dropped off in the marked box inside the synagogue during normal business hours. PJC