They call themselves the “shoe drivers.”

They call themselves the “shoe drivers.”
Hannibal Middle School students have collected 4,000 pairs of shoes, with a goal of collecting 10,000 for an agency that ships them to South America. The students will receive 20 cents a pair.
The money raised locally will go to the Hannibal Pirates Family Foundation (HPFF). The man collecting the shoes in this Shoeman Water Project will use the money raised to drill water wells in Africa, according to HMS seventh grade science teacher (and HPFF member) Teri Blackburn. “We are partnering with the Shoeman of St. Louis,” she said.
Blackburn is proud of the students, explaining, “we are trying to take a group of students and let them experience how to do a local and global project that is meaningful. These students care and work hard.”
Shoes may be donated today, Oct. 12, at a fund-raiser at County Market in the Steamboat Bend Shopping Center.
“We have teamed up with County Market,” said HMS Principal Blane Mundle, who is also HPFF president. Grilled food will be sold from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. County Market is donating the food “and will donate the profit for the Foundation,” he said.
HMS student Gabe Sante, the shoe coordinator for the “shoe drivers,” explained that any shoes may be donated except boots, house slippers and cleats.
Gabe requested people donate their shoes “for a good cause, because a lot of people need them.”
Blackburn explained the shoes may be new or used, with only shoes with a hole in the shoe or sole not being acceptable.
For those who cannot drop off shoes today at County Market, several other locations have drop-off boxes, Blackburn noted. “The main drop-off is outside middle school in front of the school.”
Collection boxes also are located at the Hannibal Nutrition Center and the Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce.
The middle school is not alone in its shoe project, Blackburn said. Other public schools are helping, as is Hannibal-LaGrange University.
“This started with the National Honor Society sponsoring a shoe drive at the high school, and a few of these students are helping,” she added.
Shoes are also being collected at churches and nursing homes, and by civic clubs.
Another group of students is involved, Blackburn said. “The Kids In Motion helped this summer and are still helping.”
The shoes are being stored in two storage units that are being donated by Mack’s Self Storage, she said.
Mundle explained the Hannibal Pirates Family Foundation has two main projects. One is the Buddy Pack, “for sending home packs with nonperishable foods.”
The second is the Helping Hands Fund, which gives $1,000 annually to each school in the Hannibal District. This donation is used “to help buy supplies for students who may need clothing.” It also goes for gas cards for students who have doctor appointments in other cities, such as Columbia or St. Louis.
Mundle added that, “it has been great to see our community come together and gather shoes and support this great project. People are more than welcome to bring shoes to donate.”