After watching a news program about children with no shoes in Afghanistan, Maureen Leisure was saddened by the resulting infections and wounds on the children’s feet, which often led to amputation of all or part of a limb. Maureen then wondered why any child anywhere in the world would be shoeless when many Americans have a closet of shoes gathering dust. Inspired to create a remedy for this problem, Maureen spoke with co-worker Bob Broughton, who enthusiastically joined Maureen in this quest, and Changing Footprints was founded in 2005.
As the donated shoes poured in, they were stored in Maureen’s living room and Bob’s garage. Maureen and Bob began contacting social service agencies and making shoe deliveries on evenings and weekends. Changing Footprints grew quickly when Bob secured a booth at the Indianapolis 500 Mini-Marathon registration in the Indianapolis Convention Center. Runners donated 4,000 pairs of shoes, and Brooks Shoes donated 6,000. Friends donated tee shirts, brochures, and their time in support of Changing Footprints. Federal Express donated boxes while Mayflower provided skids.
As a result of the expanded business, Changing Footprints needed more space and a permanent home. Bob was able to acquire a suite of offices in Indianapolis from a generous leasing manager who was impressed with the charity. This donated space has provided a stable workplace for Bob and the Indianapolis volunteers to sort and pack shoes for social service agencies and community centers. In the meantime, the former Salvation Army building in Rushville allowed volunteers to accommodate large shipments for church missions and medical and disaster-relief teams.
In the fall of 2009, Changing Footprints found a permanent home in Rushville when the Heart of Rushville offered to quitclaim half of their building if Changing Footprints replaced the leaky roof. This three-story brick warehouse, once home to both a cigar factory and later a glove manufacturing plant, was badly in need of repairs beyond the tattered roof. Changing Footprints received a huge gift-in-kind from the Indiana Roofing Contractors Association who installed the new roof with materials donated by Firestone Corporation.
After four years of fundraising and renovation, the Rushville warehouse has become a functional building to sort, store, and distribute shoes. As these plans reached fruition, this renovated facility will allow Changing Footprints to operate efficiently and productively, while offering volunteers a comfortable and pleasant work environment. Board members continue to pursue funding that will provide the stability, growth, and ongoing operating expenses for this mission that is such a passion for Maureen, Bob, and the rest of the Changing Footprints volunteers.