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Big heart hopes to fill “Mega” shoes

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Mega Shoe Drive organizer Tina Storms shows off a full donation box in front of Loyalist College’s Aboriginal Resource Centre. Photo by Brendan Burke

By Brendan Burke  [1]

BELLEVILLE – A Loyalist College student’s ambitious fundraising drive is on pace to fill some “mega” shoes.

Tina Storms – a public relations graduate currently enrolled in the college’s business administration program – officially launched her Mega Shoe Drive last fall, but with an outpouring of support from students and community members alike, the program is still running.

Storms credits the longevity of the drive – which collects unwanted running shoes at on-campus drop-off spots – to its distinct format.

“It’s unique. I don’t know of anyone else in Canada who’s doing it now,” she said.

The campaign, which diverts landfill-bound footwear to developing countries in Central and South America, doesn’t ask for monetary donations – something Storms said sets it apart from other charitable efforts.

Storms came up with her twist on conventional fundraising during a recent internship at the Lung Association [2]. The organization liked the idea, and has partnered with Storms to provide essential footwear while decluttering closets.

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Loyalist College student Tina Storms’ says her unique shoe drive is sneaking up on its goal of collecting 15,000 shoes. Photo by Brendan Burke

“It’s helping you clean out your house while avoiding putting these shoes in our landfills,” Storms said.

Apart from putting shoes on needy feet, Storms said the initiative allows recipients to repurpose old sneakers, too.

“It’s also going to help out people in Third World [3] countries who can establish a business by refurbishing and selling them,” she said.

Storms is no stranger to helping. Her campaign is the latest in a long line of humanitarian efforts from the 42-year-old, who assumes double duty as a student and a member of Loyalist’s indigenous student council. Storms helps students apply for bursaries and is currently raising funds to combat poverty in Attawapiskat [4] First Nation through a food bank program.

Storms is also involved in fundraising efforts for November’s Native Arts Festival.

The motivation behind her desire to give back is simple, she said. It’s about leaving something behind.

“How will I be remembered? I want people to say she’s the ‘unstoppable girl’, but for now I think I’m the shoe lady, and I’m okay with that.”

To date, Storm’s Mega Shoe Drive has collected a total of 17, 500 shoes. While only 6,500 of them – closed-toed running shoes – are eligible for distribution, Storm plans to doll out the remaining pairs when she travels north.

While the shoe drive sneaks up to its goal of 15,000 running shoes, Storm is already planning her next step.

“Next year, we’ll take it national,” she said.

Donations can be made to the drive at Loyalist College’s Aboriginal Resource Centre [5].

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