Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University was named the winner of the Shoeman Water Projects "Battle for the Boot" competition against Washington University at a special presentation Wednesday, June 6, at Shoeman's Fenton, Mo., headquarters.

From left: George "the Shoeman" Hutchings;Yvonne McCool, shoe drive organizer; Cyn Wise, SAC President; Denise Pearson, Office of Admission ; and Ken Fleischmann, J.D., Vice President, Human Resources

Ken Fleischmann, J.D., vice president for Human Resources, accepted the trophy from Shoeman founder George Hutchings on behalf of the University, and reflected on how the project is at the heart of SLU's Catholic, Jesuit commitment to serve others.

"Our mission drives us - not only to serve - but also to reflect upon the service we give, and then, to take action," Fleischmann said. "Just like George Hutchings is doing with his Shoeman Water Projects."

SLU's participation began as a project spearheaded by Yvonne McCool, a grants specialist at the School of Nursing, with the backing of the University's Staff Advisory Committee and SAC President Cyn Wise. The goal was to collect 3,000 pounds of shoes from faculty, staff and students at donation sites in a majority of the campus buildings.

Those donations would help Fenton-based Shoeman Water Projects fund wells, pumps and water purification systems in Haiti and Africa.

The drive ramped up even more when the company approached McCool with an idea for a friendly competition.

Washington University had learned about SLU's shoe drive and bumped up the date for theirs, setting the "Battle for the Boot! Billikens vs. Bears!" in motion. The leading shoe collector would walk away with a boot trophy from Shoeman Water Projects.

Upon receiving the trophy, Fleischmann saluted the students, faculty and staff at both SLU and Washington University as well as Shoeman Water Projects for being part of a competition where everyone wins -- especially the women, men and children whose lives will be saved when they are given access to clean drinking water.

"Clearly, you share a commitment to making the world a better place," Fleischmann said.

From April 9-May 23, dozens of boxes in more than 25 buildings across the campus began to overflow with shoes of all kinds keeping McCool and other volunteers busy. Mary Ann Fox, Denise Pearson, Natalie Peterein, Lisa Roach, Anna Scales, Linda Thein, Susan Torretta and Rita Stites assisted McCool making the rounds to transport shoes to a central storage area to await pickup by Shoeman Water Projects.

From left: Ivory Reed and Yvonne McCool are already making plans for the next "Battle of the Boot." Photo by Jennifer Black

When the drive ended, SLU had far surpassed its initial goal of 3,000 and collected 5,223 pounds of shoes. At Washington University the total was 4,996 pounds giving SLU the lead by 277 pounds and the total for both schools 10,219 pounds - breaking all previous St. Louis records.

McCool said it was amazing to see the level of participation by the SLU community as well as the impact a simple pair of shoes can make for people a world away from St. Louis.

"Thanks goes to everyone who put a box in their building or work area and each and every person who brought in a pair -- or a carload -- of shoes," McCool said.

Plans already are under way for a rematch.