Shoes Making a Splash

Ozark Water Project finishes its fifth year, receiving over 1,700 shoes.


Photo: Spencer Cotham

This pair of shoes is similar to those donated during the shoe drive. This year, students donated over 1,700 shoes to the annual Ozark Water Project Shoe Drive.

Do you worry about having water to drink or having shoes to wear? Most of the time, we take these things for granted, but not everyone is that lucky. The Ozark Water Project is designed to bring fresh water to those who do not have access to it and to start a movement to make clean water accessible across the globe.

The Ozark Water Project is a fundraiser for the Ozark Water Foundation. Students were asked to bring in pairs of shoes, which are then sold, and the profits are then used to buy equipment to dig wells for third-world countries that do not have reliable access to water.

Many people do not realize how difficult it is for some countries to have access to fresh water. Middle School Coordinator of Student Life, Smith Ferguson, recognizes how much of a problem this is.

“It’s just such a big need, because most people in those areas don’t have reliable access to clean water,” Ferguson said.

The Ozark Water Project brings fresh water to those who do not have access to it, and brings awareness about water crises as a whole. The project was founded five years ago, and Ferguson has been with the fundraiser since the beginning.

“I think it’s a really meaningful cause that we’ve been a part of for years now,” Ferguson said. “We’ve had some good support across all three of our campuses.”

Students look forward to the fundraiser each year. Eighth grader Angelina Davis recognizes the importance of helping those in need, and appreciates the good the Ozark Water Project does.

“It’s really cool that it’s not just one thing that we’re getting out of it, but two: clean water and people will get shoes,” Davis said.

The communal impact is not lost on the students either.

“It’s a way for the students to give back to the community,” Davis said. “The students will bring in old shoes or shoes that don’t fit them anymore, and they will be given to students in Africa but will also help provide people in Africa with fresh water. We are really fortunate to have shoes in the first place and also that we are able to give away so many pairs of shoes too. People can really benefit from something that might seem so insignificant to us like water, people really need it, and shoes.”

Teachers recognize the importance of this fundraiser as well, and some even participate. Jason Hills, director for the Institute of Citizenship, knows how valuable this fundraiser is.

“There are millions of people who are facing a water access dilemma, while the water that they need to drink is right underneath their feet.” Hills said. “All you need to do is to donate shoes that you aren’t gonna use anyway in order to make this happen. It’s basically a no-brainer”