By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – A new and used shoe collection sponsored by Dearborn Outer Drive Kiwanis will help local donors eliminate closet clutter while raising money to help eradicate maternal and neonatal tetanus worldwide.
Kiwanis International service clubs volunteer to improve the lives of children locally and worldwide.
The DOD Kiwanis shoe drive, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” will help raise funds for Kiwanis International’s partnership with UNICEF to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus in pregnant women and mothers and babies worldwide.
The Eliminate Project seeks to raise $110 million to save the lives of 129 million women and babies through tetanus vaccinations, improving maternal health and infant survival rates in third world countries.
In the past five years, tetanus vaccination sponsored by the project have prevented the disease in 13 countries.
A series of tetanus vaccinations costs $1.80 per person.
Tetanus occurs when a potentially deadly bacteria, found in soil, dust and manure, enters the body through a cut or puncture wound. The bacteria is present worldwide, but is most prevalent in hot, wet climates where soil in rich in organic matter.
Shoes collected by DOD Kiwanis will be shipped to third world countries, where they are refurbished by cottage industries, providing jobs, and keeping the shoes out of landfills. Kiwanis receives a portion of the revenue when the refurbished footwear is sold.
DOD Kiwanis member Rosa Scarmucci said for every 25 pairs of shoes collected and refurbished, enough money is generated to vaccinate and protect five people from tetanus.
Donated shoes may be new or used, but should have intact soles without holes. The shoe drive will accept footwear for men, women and children, both everyday and dress shoes, including boots, sandals, flip flops, sneakers and high heels.
Scarmucci said the project is environmentally sound in that it keeps used shoes out of landfills, and provides footwear for people with none.
“When we say ‘walk a mile in my shoes,’ what we’re really talking about is giving someone a chance to better their lives,” Scarmucci said. “We want to make a positive difference in the lives of others, and this is such an easy way to do it.
“We’re not asking you to take out your wallet this time. We’re asking you to clean out your closet.”
Kiwanis member Peggie Pedenelli said working with their close-knit group, which is like a second family to her, on projects that positively impact the lives of other people is as important to her as her own desire to give back.
“The fact that we are doing these projects touches you the most,” Pedenelli said. “We follow through with them. We finish what we start. We feel good about what we do.”
“Sometimes you may get tired, but there is usually a teamwork effort, so it’s not one person alone,” said DOD Kiwanis club president Scott Murdoch.
Club secretary Bob Bryer said he puts time and energy into the club’s projects because they help children in the community and around the world.
He said the club has committed to raising $20,000 for the tetanus elimination project over the next five years.
Murdoch said Kiwanis National and International try to find projects, like tetanus elimination, that will have a significant impact on the lives of other people.
He said local clubs choose which project they participate in, and how they reach their fundraising goals.
Scarmucci said when a club has filled 100 bags with 25 pairs of shoes, Kiwanis of Michigan will send a truck to pick up the shoes, which are then shipped to the cottage industries in developing third world countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Shoe collection begins in May, and will run through summer and into the fall.
The first collection will be held during the DOD Kiwanis third annual charity fundraiser garage sale May 12 to 14 at 1533 Hawthorne in Dearborn.
Shoes will also be collected during the DOD Kiwanis Safety Town program, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 20 to 23 and June 27 and 28 at Howard Elementary School, 1611 N. York St. in Dearborn.
Safety Town teaches children, age 4 to 6, how to safely cross the street and cope with cars and traffic, and about the dangers of fire, electricity, poison, animals and strangers. For more information, go to dodkiwanis.org.
During Dearborn Homecoming, Aug. 5 to 7 at Ford Field, 22051 Cherry Hill, shoes may be donated at the DOD Kiwanis Turtle Derby raffle booth in the Community Tent.
During the Turtle Derby, numbered floatable toy turtles are tossed into the Rouge River, and the first to arrive downstream at the collect point earn their bettors locally donated prizes. The entry proceeds help fund Safety Town and Kiwanis dictionary donations to third-graders in Dearborn.
Scarmucci said that while Kiwanis works locally to help children with projects like Safety Town and dictionaries, it also works worldwide to provide health care and basic needs.
“A life is a life, and we are a global world these day,” Scarmucci said. “All these people have the right to live a healthy life.
“If we can give a pair of shoes and save somebody from pain or embarrassment, or poverty, because they can walk now to someplace and get a job, that is going to help.”