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AEP River Operations employee collects shoes for clean water in Haiti

by on December 17, 2012
Terry Moore of AEP River Operations with some of the shoes collected for Shoeman Water Projects. The donated shoes will help maintain jobs, provide affordable shoes for people and support water-supply development in Haiti.

(Story by Jennifer L. Mason)

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — A mission trip in the summer of 2011 to help develop clean water supplies in Haiti prompted Terry Moore, director – Business Development for AEP River Operations, and his family to continue supporting the effort from afar.

In 2011, Moore spent a week of his vacation time in Haiti as part of a church team that installed four water-purification systems in various locations for local residents.

Prior to Thanksgiving, Moore asked employees at AEP River Operations offices in Chesterfield to participate by cleaning out their closets over the holiday weekend and to bring used but wearable shoes back to the office.

Abengoa Bioenergy, a customer of River Operations and a tenant of the Chesterfield office, also participated and with the help of one of its employees, Bob Pflaum, they were able to enthuse the entire building to get involved. Moore and his wife, Carol, stood at a table in the lobby on the Monday after Thanksgiving and collected more than 250 pairs of shoes.

“It’s such a simple effort to clean out your closet, and I’m very thankful for the support I received from my colleagues here in Chesterfield,” Moore said. “We hope to expand the effort throughout River Operations and possibly the entire river industry.”

So what do used shoes have to do with clean water in the impoverished country of Haiti, whose people still suffer from the effects of a catastrophic 2010 earthquake and damage from hurricanes?

Shoeman Water Projects, a non-profit organization based in Fenton, Mo., collects thousands of donated used and new shoes from school service projects, church mission projects, business dropoff locations and business in-house shoe drives.

The shoes are provided to roadside vendors in Haiti, Kenya and countries in South America. The resale of shoes provides jobs, and a valuable product to sell at affordable prices. The end users are people who do not have shoes and cannot afford to purchase new ones. The shoes protect the new owners’ feet from abrasions, parasites and mites.

Funds generated from the export of the shoes provide well drilling rigs, water purification systems and hand pump repair microbusinesses, bringing clean, fresh water to those who thirst.

“Shoeman Water Projects has been extremely supportive of our water mission in Haiti,” Moore said. “Funds for purchasing water purifiers as well as pipe, tanks and batteries on the ground are essential, and their organization has always been there for us.”

From August 2008 to June 2011, Shoeman Water Projects has collected more than 1.5 million pairs of shoes. The project has purchased four water-well drilling rigs, with more than 250 wells drilled serving more than 200,000 people, as well as water purification system installations and well pump repairs serving clinics, schools and villages across the globe. To date this year, the organization reports it has collected more than 800,000 pairs of shoes.

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