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Changing the world, two feet at a time by Maureen Gilmer


Take a look in your closet. How many pairs of shoes do you have? Five? Twenty-five? Fifty? How many can you do without? Changing Footprints would like your leftovers. The Central Indiana nonprofit collects thousands of shoes every year and distributes them to dozens of social service agencies in the Indianapolis area, as well as 17 countries.


Maureen Leisure, Bob Broughton and their committee of volunteers are the brains and heart behind this grass-roots effort that operates on a shoestring budget. Leisure launched the organization in 2005 with help from Broughton after she was moved by something she saw on the news about Afghanistan. American doctors were tending to Afghanis who had fled their homes during the war and were living in tent cities up in the mountains.


"They were enduring freezing temperatures in a rocky climate, and many of them had no shoes," she said. Foot injuries often led to lost limbs. "It was a time in my life when I felt a great need to give back. I was single and didn't have much money, but I still felt there were things I could do," Leisure said.


So, she recruited Broughton, at the time her co-worker at Emerson Climate Technologies, and together they decided the first thing they could do was gather shoes. Soon, Leisure said, "my dining room was ceiling high with boxes of shoes" — new and used. Then Hurricane Katrina hit, and the young nonprofit hooked up with a trucking company that gathered all the shoes and took them to a Red Cross staging area for distribution to Katrina victims.


Things really took off when Changing Footprints was invited to set up shop at the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon Expo the following year. Runners donated thousands of pairs of shoes. Many who bought new shoes at the event "gave us the shoes off their feet," Leisure said. Brooks Shoes donated 6,000 more. At that point, the organization needed some serious storage space.


Today, Changing Footprints operates out of donated space in a 100-year-old warehouse in Rushville, as well as donated office space in Indianapolis. Volunteers come in every week to the Rushville site to sort shoes, clean them and stock them. Every Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon, anyone can come to the warehouse, 300 Julian St., Rushville, to get shoes. No strings attached. Leisure recalls one mom who had no money to buy shoes for her 13-year-old son. When he came to the warehouse to try on a few pairs Leisure had set aside for him, he removed the tight shoes he had been wearing. "I was heartsick when I saw his feet. Every toe had a blister on it, and there were red sores on both feet from the shoes." He walked away with six pairs of new socks and two pairs of shoes. He was beaming, while his mom cried tears of relief." Leisure said.


In Indianapolis, volunteers deliver shoes regularly to social service agencies. Last year, the group gave out 6,000 pairs of shoes to individuals, mission groups, shelters, relief groups and other organizations around the world, Leisure said. Among them locally: Wheeler Mission, Dress for Success, Children's Bureau, the Julian Center and Coats for Kids.


Along the way, Leisure has met amazing partners — businesses and people who have answered her prayers when she was desperate for help. Trucking companies, moving companies, retailers, construction crews, attorneys — all have had a hand in putting shoes on others' feet. "There are a lot of people out there who are happy to do stuff like this, but they don't always get the opportunity," Leisure said. "If you reach out and ask them specifically, they're really happy to help. Through the years, we have been blessed with so many people who have helped us."


Leisure is 69 now and retired from her paying job, but she spends many hours a week in her shoe "shop." She marvels at how far Changing Footprints has come in its 11 years but worries about its future. "We need to get younger people involved," she said. Volunteers can host shoe drives, sort, collect or deliver shoes, or help with professional services — writing, graphic design, creating videos and computer support.


Shoe collection sites can be found throughout the area, including the Jewish Community Center, Blue Mile stores, Stride Rite, Indianapolis Racquet Club and Goodman's Shoes.

Hendricks & Boone County Solid Waste Management Districts support CF


The past five years, Hendricks County and Boone County Solid Waste Management Districts have conducted county-wide used shoe collections for Changing Footprints as part of their mission to recycle and reuse, minimizing additions to the landfills. Each District enlists schools, organizations, and companies across their county in a program called Recycle Heart & Sole, to collect shoes for the three weeks around Valentine's day.


Over that time, they have collected over 20 tons (40,000 pairs) of shoes, which have been quality-sorted, paired, and redistributed to over 120 Central Indiana organizations. Their shoes have traveled with service groups to 8 countries as well as being provided to hurricane assistance programs in Texas, Puerto Rico, and North Carolina. Changing Footprints would like to thank the SWMDs of Boone and Hendricks Counties for making a major difference, changing the world two feet at a time.  

Vision International delivers shoes

Changing Footprints shoes that traveled with Vision International to kids at this orphanage. Vision Iternational has taken CF shoes to Brazil, Peru, and Guatemala. See our shoes in actual use!

2018 distribution in Sierra Leone, West Africa through Miya's Foundation

2018 was fourth year for Changing Footprints distributing shoes through Miya's Foundation. Miya's Foundation supports orphanages and schools in Sierra Leone, West Africa. We've supplied them with over 2000 pairs in two years and are beginning to pick shoes to contribute a large quantity in 2019.  While over 80% of CF shoes stay within Central Indiana, we also change the entire world, two feet at a time.

Orphan Grain Train takes 6,000 pair of shoes to Puerto Rico

In early January the Indiana Branch volunteers were busy loading the 5th container for Puerto Rico; shipping costs were paid from Orphan Grain Train’s Hurricane Relief fund. The container was purchased and will remain in Puerto Rico to be used for storage. The volunteers loaded quilts, Bibles, hymnals, shoes, (including 6,000 pair of shoes from Changing Footprints) clothes, coats, new socks and undies, cleaning kits/supplies, 57,024 processed food packages (Love the Hungry) and hygiene kits for our recipient Centro Cristiano Gracia Y Verdad Inc. Puerto Ricans are still drastically affected by Hurricane Maria. This means hand washing clothes, challenges cooking food and no running water, hot water or lights for more than 3 months. Thank you to our volunteers and donors for helping with another shipment to Puerto Rico. Please continue to pray for the children and families devastated from Hurricane Maria.


Orphan Grain Train is a Christian volunteer network that ships donated food, clothing, medical and other needed items to people in 67 different countries. Learn more about Orphan Grain Train

Carmel Teen collects 600 pairs of shoes

Clay Middle School seventh grader Abi Cox’s recent efforts to something good for others extended beyond the state’s borders. For her Bat Mitzvah, the 13-year-old held a shoe drive to benefit Changing Footprints, a Rushville based nonprofit providing gently used shoes to those in need regardless of their religious affiliations. Cox collected more than 600 pairs of shoes from neighbors in Carmel to as far as away as New Jersey. Changing Footprints came to the family’s home December 21 to collect Cox’s donation- the second largest in the six year history of the organization.

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30,000 Pairs of Shoes Distributed in 2016 - just AMAZING!

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Fred and Robin Lindsey had reported to us last August that Changing Footprints were on track for 27,000 pairs of shoes for the year - a record number - but they have surpassed that! Changing Footprints realizes the great need for shoes in our own community and around the world. They collect previously-worn and new shoes for distribution to homeless, disaster-stricken, and underprivileged people at home and abroad, regardless of race, religion, gender or ethnicity. Over 100,000 pairs of shoes have been donated locally, across the U.S. and 17 countries overseas!


Donation of any kind, any size, any condition are accepted. Even damaged shoes are converted into paving material for playgrounds. There are several drop-off locations here in Carmel, including a large barrel just inside the door at the American Legion Hall where our club meets.


Fred (pictured left) and Robin have put out a call for help at their sorting sessions twice a month - first and third Saturdays. The first Saturday of every month sorting will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at noon. On the third Saturday sorting will start at 1:00 and end at 4. Address for this activity is 9302 N. Meridian St., Suite 382. Volunteers are welcome to come and go at their convenience. You are not expected to stay the entire time unless you wish to. If you have any questions or wish to add your name to the volunteer list you can call Fred (317-691-7828) or Robin (317-691-7827). This is a great volunteer activity for all of us Kiwanians! Read the full Golden K Kiwanas Bulletin.

Vision International going to Brazil

Vision International came to the Changing Footprints Indianapolis sorting room on Saturday, February 3 and spent several hours sorting shoes. They then packed up 200 pairs of shoes for their upcoming trip to Brazil, and are making plans for their July trip to an orphanage in Peru. They will take additional hundreds of pairs of shoes to Peru as well as medical and other supplies. They are interested in hearing from anyone who would be interested in making a service trip with them. If you would like to come to Changing Footprints to pack shoes for this worthwhile effort, or if you would be interested in information on the trip to Peru, contact us.

2018 distribution in Sierra Leone, West Africa through Miya's Foundation

2018 was the fourth year for Changing Footprints distributing shoes through Miya's Foundation. Miya's Foundation supports orphanages and schools in Sierra Leone, West Africa. We've supplied them with over 2,000 pairs in two years and are beginning to pick shoes to contribute in a large quantity in 2019. While over 80% of CF shoes stay within Central Indiana, we also change the entire world, two feet at a time. 

Changing Footprints in Hancock County

Changing Footprints will be at the GLEANERS free food and Changing Footprints shoe event @ the Hancock County Fairgrounds 11/01/16 and 11/14/16, from 3-5PM. This event is open to everyone and is sponsored by The Hancock County Food Pantry.

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Changing Footprints Shoes To Kentucky

The Back to School Extravaganza annual event is designed to provide needed back to school items for children from pre-K through high school in the improvised area of Pulaski County in southern Kentucky.


The Good Samaritan Thrift in Burnside, KY was identified by Pastor Harrell as needing free shoes for a number of local individuals.


Changing Footprints has been invited to participate in the 2017 Somerset, KY "Back To School Extravaganza".


Changing Footprints Shoes To Haiti

Changing Footprints recently supplied 200 pairs of shoes to the Little Angels Orphanage, The School of Hope, and several medical clinics in Port au Prince, Haiti. Kay Walla and other volunteers representing Hearts of Hope for Haiti, a group from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, transported the shoes in early January. The Hearts of Hope group and members of the respective staffs delighted the children by helping them choose and fit their new shoes. “I return their gratitude to you,” explained Kay. “Having Changing Footprints as a partner has been a blessing for Hearts of Hope for Haiti. Blessings on you and your work,” she concluded.

Runners, racers and fans speed into the month of May By Gretchen Becker

It's time to start your engines and shift into gear for the greatest racing spectacle on earth. Celebrate the Spectacle, this year's theme for the Indianapolis 500, promises fun and excitement throughout May. It starts with the Mini Marathon Expo May 4 and Friday, where race fans can enjoy health and fitness-related interactive displays, speakers, merchandise, exhibits and more, and ends May 28 with the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500.


Highlights in between include the 30th OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon, race-qualifying events, Breakfast at the Brickyard, the Chase 500 Festival Kids' Day and Rookie Run, Community Day, Zoopolis 500, a memorial service for fallen soldiers, the 500 Festival Parade and the Snakepit Ball.


"The mission of the 500 Festival is to honor and celebrate the Indianapolis 500," said Melissa Mann, event communications director. "We spend the month of May celebrating the race." When the 30th OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon kicks off at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, every runner and walker will use a timing device made by Carmel-based The End Result Co. Participants' times will be listed online as they complete the race, said company owner Mike Ducy. Find results at or during or after the race.


The Mini Marathon is sold out with a record 35,000 entrants, plus 3,500 in the 5K. Runners, walkers and race fans also can donate new and gently used shoes to local nonprofit Changing Footprints during the free Mini Marathon Expo and Packet Pick-Up, 4-8 p.m. May 4 and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday at the Indiana Convention Center, 100 S. Capitol Ave. For those who can't make it to the Expo, Goodman's Shoes in Nora Plaza, 1300 E. 86th St., accepts donations year round for Changing Footprints, said Indianapolis coordinator Bob Broughton.

Emerson Supports Changing Footprints

Changing Footprints provides new and gently used shoes to needy and less fortunate people throughout the world. They have operated for the past two years without a permanent home. Recently, a permanent location was acquired and CF is working hard to raise the funds to renovate the building making Rushville their permanent home and headquarters. Emerson Foundation (locally Copeland Corporation) continued its support for this very important project, demonstrating a strong belief in our mission and their support for community projects.


Pictured left to right: Bob Broughton, Emerson-Mt. Comfort; Maureen Leisure, Changing Footprints; Dominic Basciano, Emerson-Rushville; and Ruth Houk, Changing Footprints

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