Wash U, SLU to Compete in Battle of the Boot

George "The Shoeman" Hutchings will walk the halls of academia in order to find enough donated shoes to support his water purification efforts in undeveloped countries.

George "The Shoeman" Hutchings is going to college to collect shoes to support the varied water projects he wants to establish for those who are thirsty.

Hutchings is presiding over a battle between the St. Louis University Bilikens and the Bears, who will go toe to toe in the Battle of the Boot. Both schools are going all out to collect new and gently used shoes to support the Shoeman Water Projects.

The shoe collection drive will last through May 23 at both universities. Only one school will win the bronze boot but Hutchings says when donated shoes are turned into clean potable water in countries where clean water is scarce, everybody wins.

Both sides are recruiting participation on campus and beyond, encouraging students, faculty, staff and friends to go boldly to their closets, tackle every last pair of shoes they are no longer wearing and bring them to a designated collection site to score a point for the Bears or Billikens. 

Members of the Saint Louis University Staff Advisory Committee (SAC) are hosting the drive at SLU and have introduced a competition within a competition to add to the fun. Not only is Saint Louis University competing against Washington University, but buildings across the campus are competing for the most shoes collected. SAC will award trophies to the dorm and the professional building that collects the most shoes.

For more information or to set up a box for SLU on or off campus, contact Yvonne McCool at (314) 977-8957 or by email at ymcoolm@slu.edu.

Saint Louis University shoe collection boxes are located at:

  • DuBourg Hall
  • Fusz Hall
  • Omar Poos Law Library
  • MacElwane Hall 
  • Verhaegen Hall
  • McDonnell-Douglas Hall
  • Tegler Hall
  • McGannon Hall
  • Wool Center
  • Cardinal Glennon Hospital
  • Desloge Towers
  • Doisy Research Center
  • Monteleone Hall
  • School of Nursing
  • Center for Advanced Dental Care
  • Griesendieck Residence Hall
  • Reinert Residence Hall 
  • Core ECG Lab on Brentwood (across from the Galleria)
  • Caroline Mall

To absorb shoe donations from anyone that does not have a box in their building, bins will be placed in the Hickory East and Hickory West garages on Theresa Lane (Medical Campus), and in the Laclede and Olive/Compton garages.

“The most shoes collected in the St. Louis area is 2,775 pounds,” said Yvonne McCool, SLU Grants Development Specialist and shoe drive coordinator. “SLU’s goal is 3,000 pounds and we are well on our way to meeting this goal. There’s a lot of energy and momentum building around the drive. I’m even getting advice from students and others about how to bring in more shoes. The main thing is the need for clean water, couple this with some friendly competition with Washington University and we are seeing strong donations across the SLU community. We intend to take home the boot this year, but wherever the boot lands the end result is clean water for people thousands of miles away.”

At Washington University this is the third time it have held a shoe drive for Shoeman Water Projects. The first two brought in a combined total of 5,155 lbs. of shoes. Initially scheduled for later in the year, it bumped up the date for its third drive when it learned of SLU’s drive, setting the “Battle for the Boot” in motion.

Their last shoe drive produced 2,735 lbs. of shoes from six drop-off bin locations. This year it has expanded its collection site coverage to 15 locations making it easy and convenient for students and staff to kick up donations to support the team.

Washington University Medical School drop off locations are:

  • MPRB Lobby
  • FLTC Atrium
  • 4444 Forest Park
  • 4488 Forest Park
  • 4511 Forest Park
  • 4480 Clayton
  • Clayton Parking Garage
  • CAM link
  • CAB Entrance
  • West Campus
  • North Campus
  • #10 Barnes West Drive
  • 14532 South Outer 40 Drive
  • East Building – 4525 Scott Ave. 
  • Cortex Lobby

For more information, contact shoe drive coordinators Janice Cole, administrative coordinator of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, at 314-747-6769, email colej@wustl.edu or Leo Lewis, assistant to the Director for Support Services, Facilities Management Division at 314-362-2293, email lewisle@wusm.wustl.edu.

As a committed recycling/repurposing advocate and member of Washington University’s sustainability group, Cole was instrumental in getting the initial shoe drive underway for Shoeman Water Projects at the medical center in 2011.

“I had heard George the Shoeman Hutchings on the radio several times talking about how Shoeman Water Projects turns donated used and new shoes into clean water for people in developing countries. I thought it would be great to do a shoe drive at the university, so after meeting with George, Julie, Tim and Rich at the Shoeman Warehouse in Fenton, we moved forward and have had very strong support. With two drives behind us we know the drill. We’ve got the momentum and commitment to push ahead and claim the boot in June!”

Shoes of all types and sizes are needed including athletic shoes, heels, flats, and sandals but must be free of holes or rips. The donated shoes achieve several purposes and everybody in the loop benefits. Shoe donors reduce the clutter in their closets; the shoes are exported to countries where affordable shoes are greatly needed to protect the new owner’s feet from foot abrasions, parasites and mites; the process promotes micro businesses, such as hand pump-repair services and roadside shoe sales; and proceeds from the donated shoes make it possible to buy equipment to dig wells and install water purification systems that bring clean water to those who thirst.

“The Battle for the Boot” promotes tremendous spirit between the Billikens and the Bears and makes the whole process of supporting sustainable life-saving water programs more fun,” said Hutchings. “I want to thank everyone involved at Saint Louis University and Washington University for stepping up the competition this way. In the end, we’re all on the same team, putting one shoe after another in the collection bins to make the water flow to people who need it most. It’s exciting to get this support from these amazing institutions.”

Businesses, organizations, schools, faith communities and individuals who wish to organize a shoe drive can find more information and organizing resources on Shoeman Water Project’s website, www.shoeman.org.

Anyone wanting to drop off new or used shoes can contribute to the Battle of the Boot drive at one of the locations mentioned above; or find a collection site on the Shoeman website by typing in a zip code.


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