Used shoe drive benefits WaterStep program

These bins will be set up at various locations around town to collect the shoes. | Photo contributed

Who would have thought that an old pair of shoes could provide clean drinking water? The WaterStep program does just that.

The WaterStep organization based in Louisville, Kentucky takes donated shoes and sells them to an exporter where they are repurposed. The profit from the shoes is then used to fund safe drinking water projects all over the world.

Cheryl Tinsley, a Corbin High School social studies teacher, was first introduced to WaterStep at a student leadership conference several years ago. She was so impressed with what WaterStep did that she brought back the information and shared with her students. Those students completed the first WaterStep service project in the Corbin community.

That service project has now become an annual event and even though the original students who first completed the program have graduated, a new group of students are continuing the annual project.

Now until the end of April, students will be placing collection boxes around town for community members to drop off shoes no longer being worn. By donating your used shoes to WaterStep, you’ll help fund safe drinking water projects all over the world that include portable chlorine generators and water filtration systems for emergency use in disaster areas to well drilling kits and rolling water balls in third world countries.

Corbin High School WaterStep Student Coordinator Lauren Shackleford said, “The best thing about this project is we have the ability to take what would have been garbage and save lives”.

In addition to funding water projects, donated shoes keep hundreds of tons of waste out of our landfills. Corbin High School has kept over 12,000 shoes out of local landfills through this project over the past years. The students hope to collect an additional 1,500 shoes this year.

Shoes can be dropped off during the month of April. Collection boxes will be located at each of the Corbin Independent School entrances, Central Baptist Church, Freedom Point Church, Grace on the Hill United Methodist Church, Shiner Church of Christ, The Corbin Center, and Brentwood Pharmacy.

"If any other business or organization in the area would like to be a donation drop off place, we will get them a donation box,” Tinsley said adding she may be contacted by email at

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