Saint Louis University

George "The Shoeman" Hutchings uses the money raised by exporting and selling shoes to pay for clean drinking water in Kenya, Haiti and South America. Photo by Danielle Lacey

George "The Shoeman" Hutchings, founder of Shoeman Water Projects, presented Saint Louis University with the golden boot trophy on June 25 in recognition of its success during the Battle for the Boot. The University collected 5,496 pairs of shoes, for a total of 7,067 pounds, marking its second consecutive win against Washington University.

"I was worried," said Yvonne McCool, shoe drive coordinator. "On April 1, we had reached a third of our goal with 2,501 pounds; but the SLU community came through again, and in April and May we collected 4,566 pounds of shoes. We reached our goal of 7,000 pounds. Incredible."

Drummond Hall placed first throughout the campus, collecting an impressive 1,113 pairs of shoes. The Marvin and Harlene Wool Center walked away with the second-place trophy for collecting 660 pairs of shoes.

Funds from the shoes collected this year will help purchase three water purification systems for either Haiti or Kenya. Last year, the drive helped purchase two purifiers for Haiti and they were installed in January.

According to the World Health Organization, each day more than 4,000 children die from water-related illnesses. That averages to one child every 15 seconds. Saint Louis University has done something to help change those statistics.

Ken Fleischmann, vice present for Human Resources, shared some personal thoughts after accepting the trophy on the University's behalf. He observed that this is more than just shoes. Children drinking from jars and bottles filled with dark brown water is a difficult image, but Hutchings has found a way to turn shoes into drinking water.

Drive organizers hope to expand the contest by inviting other area colleges and universities to take part in the annual battle.