Old shoes mean new funds for local non-profit

12 years ago
By Natalie Bazinet
Staff Writer

CARIBOU — Most people look under the couch cushions while scrounging up a couple of bucks, but at the Halfway Home Pet Rescue, they check their shoes.

Aroostook Republican photo/Natalie Bazinet
Donated footwear must be acceptable for reuse, and Halfway Home Volunteers have scores of helpers ready to sniff out any questionable pairs.


The Caribou-based cat rescue recently became active with the company Shoebox Recycling and for every 40 lbs of shoes the shelter collects, they’ll get $20 from the recycling company.

Like all funds generated and donated to the shelter, every dollar is spent carefully.  

With about $20, the shelter could buy either:

• six 20 pound bags of litter — an amount would currently last the shelter about two days;

• One parasite prevention treatment dose for a single cat in addition to its deworming;

• Rabies and distemper vaccines for one cat, and both diseases are fatal to unvaccinated felines;

• a 14 pound bag of Purina Kitten Chow; or

• about 18 gallons of bleach — to keep the shelter clean and sanitary, volunteers use approximately a dozen gallons a week.

An increased number of boxes reflects the cost of more expensive treatments; neutering a male cat, for instance, costs about as much two 40 pound boxes of shoes.

“For every 25 boxes of recycled shoes, our organization will receive $500,” explained HHPR President Norma Milton. The pet rescue already has three boxes packed to the brim and another box about halfway full.

As Vice Preside of Marketing and Business Development Lisa Pomerantz explained, “In terms of fund-raising, we put the ‘fun’ back in it; you don’t have to sell anything and you don’t have to purchase anything.”

Instead, fundraising with Shoebox Recycling is as simple as checking closets for still-functional shoes that would otherwise be sent to the landfill.

Shoes with holes in them (other than the ones the manufacturer intentionally placed) are not counted toward the pound-count of collected shoes; after the boxes are sent to Shoebox Recycling, they’re sent to devoping nations where they’re affordably sold by individuals who are able to make a liveable wage through the sales.

Echoing the mission of Shoebox Recycling, Milton explained that she likes the program because it keeps the shoes out of the landfills and on the feet of those who need it, while creating good jobs for people a world away and, of course, raising money to keep Aroostook’s feral and abandoned cats healthy and happy.

Individuals looking to donate their shoes need to remember that the used footware is destined for resale — if the sneakers have more holes than soles, they’re probably not going to help anyone out.

“WE try very, very hard to help people understand that the shoes are designated for reuse — nothing wet or mildew-covered,” Pomerantz explained.

Shoebox Recycling works with microentrepreneurs in places like Africa and South America to connect people with all sorts of footware. From strappy sandels to construction boots and everywhere in between, shoes get a second life.

Halfway Home Pet Rescue stretches every penny, and assisting the organization is as simple as donating shoes you don’t want anymore. The only shoes not accepted by Shoebox Recycling are heavy winter boots, ski boots, roller skates, roller blades, single shoes and, well, those old junky sneakers filled with holes that smell worse than they look.

Donated shoes can be dropped off at the pet rescue.

Additional information can be obtained by calling Milton at 492-1722.