MENASHA, Wis. (WFRV) – Two Menasha high school students are putting their best foot forward with a shoe drive that not only keeps shoes out of landfills but is going to help out people all around the world.
Ryan Johnson and Taylor Kolasinski are juniors at Menasha High School. With help from an organization called Funds2Orgs, the students are collecting shoes that will get sent to developing counties around the world. People in those countries will be able to resell the shoes so they can make a living for themselves and help support their families.
The students are looking for donations of new or lightly used shoes.
“We know that we are a lot more fortunate than others and we both had a lot of shoes at home that are never going to be used again,” said Johnson.
The students have set up about two dozen collection sites around the Menasha community. They have collected about 1700 pairs since they started on Feb. 20 and store the shoes in bags in the Johnson’s basement.
They said the fundraiser started slow but now the donations are pouring in and bags of shoes are piling up in their basement.
“It really feels great, I can’t express the emotions that go through my mind knowing that this is going to help a greater cause,” said Kolasinski.
Another reason the students say they’re doing this project is so that all of these shoes don’t end up in landfills.
When the students donate the shoes, the people at the Funds2Orgs group weigh all the shoes and then send back money based on the total weight of the shoe donation. The students said that they want to use that money to create a scholarship to help one of their classmates pay for college or donate the money to a local nonprofit.
As part of the project, they also visited their old elementary school and spoke to students there about leadership, being a good person, and giving back to the community.
Johnson and Kolasinski said that their goal is to collect 2,500 pairs of shoes. They will continue the fundraiser through April 20.
“It’s been time consuming I’m not going to lie, it has taken up a lot of our time but it’s so worth it at the end just seeing the difference that it is making, said Kolasinski.
The students have set up collection boxes at Neenah-Menasha YMCA, Appleton YMCA, Fox West YMCA, Heart of the Valley YMCA, Ogden YMCA, Menasha Public Library, Menasha Starbucks, Blue Bird Boutique Menasha, Tony’s Bar, Stone Toad, Tanners Kimberly, Naava Salon, Nine.Two. Zero. Salon, Annie Time Nails, Menasha High and Middle School, Clovis Grove Elementary School, Menasha and Appleton Police Department, Saint Mary and Saint Johns Menasha, Nicolet Bank, SECURA, Kimberly-Clark, and Appleton Pick ‘n Save.
“It’s one of the best things that I’ve done in my life for the community,” said Johnson.
“I can’t even express the amount of excitement that we have with as many shoes as we have,” said Kolasinski.
For more information about the fundraiser, the students set up an Instagram account @RyanAndTaylorShoeDrive.
“We are so grateful for all the support that we have gotten,” said Kolasinski.
Kolasinski and Johnson said they plan to Zoom call with the people who receive their shoe donations and are really looking forward to this.
“It’s really important to see the impact that we’re making so being able to meet with that person gives us real life insight on what is going on, here (in the United States) we’re super privileged,” said Kolasinski.