The Tooele High School cross country team collected around 2,000 used shoes from Tooele County that will now be sent off to poor countries where shoes are often a hard item to find.
Coach Jonathan Lundgreen challenged the team to come up with a service project and they took it from there, he said.
“Collecting used shoes for the Soles4Souls Foundation sounded like a good fit for a cross country team,” said Sam Stuart, one of the team captains. “I mean who doesn’t have an old pair of shoes in their closet?”
The usable donated shoes will go to refugees and people in poverty in countries where a lot of people don’t have shoes, according to Dakota Lundgreen, team captain.
“The shoes that aren’t usable will be recycled by the foundation and they will still benefit people,” she said.
The cross country team didn’t just rely on their 112 team members to donate their old shoes. The team printed up flyers, posted them in stores and on windshields of cars in parking lots near the school, according to Captain Bekah Medley.
The donated shoes were collected and stored in coach Lundgreen’s classroom, which he said did begin to smell unusual as the number of shoes reached a critical mass.
Utah’s first lady, Abby Cox, took note of the team’s accomplishment as part of her #ShowUpForService initiative.
Cox and Ashley Smith, who along with her husband, Ryan, own the Utah Jazz, made a trip to Tooele High School on Nov. 11 to meet with the cross country team and thank them for their service.
“Being externally focused helps us when life sets us back,” Cox said.
Looking over the group of students assembled in the cafeteria addition of THS along with big pile of shoes, Smith said, “I see a power among you in diversity and service.”