Blackwell Art Department seeks shoes for fundraiser

by Charles Gerian

Students in the Blackwell High School art program are asking for donations of new and used shoes to help raise money for their 2020 trip to Belize in Central America.

According to BHS art teacher Ashley Heitschmidt, art students will collect shoes from local residents. From there, the shoes will be redistributed by Funds2Orgs, an organization that delivers the shoes to people in need across the globe.

A statement on the organization's website said that the organization “has a network of small business partners to create, maintain, and grow small business in developing countries where economic opportunity and jobs may be limited. Proceeds from the shoes are used to feed, clothe, and house families in these countries.”

Mistie Jackson, one of the parents spearheading the shoe-drive, said that one entrepreneur in Haiti earned enough money to send her son to law school through shoe donations. The students hope to collect 2,500 pairs of shoes of all sizes and makes. Shoes in need include sandals, cleats, high heels, and more. The last day to drop off any shoes will be May 24.

Students will hold a shoe drop-off day Sunday, April 28 at the United grocery store, located on Doolin Avenue.

Students will also hold a bake-sale that same day. Another drop-off day will be held Sunday, May 19 in the parking lot of the former Homeland grocery store, located on Main Street.

The 2020 trip is being led by Heitschmidt.

Students will be given funds for the trip based on the total weight of shoes they collect.

Once the shoes are all collected, Funds2Orgs will issue a check for the collected shoes.

“We're so excited about the drive,” students Triniti Brown and Raven Gummow said. “We know that most people have extra shoes in their closets that they can donate to us. By doing so, we raise money for the trip of a lifetime, and along with that, we get the chance to help families in developing nations who need economic opportunities like this. It's a win-win for everyone.”

“We're raising money for this trip so that those going are able to experience a different culture, to learn about their customs, to see and meet new people, and to be exposed to something other than Blackwell. This could be the only chance some of these students get to experience the world outside of Blackwell. People often complain about donating money for various fundraisers. Well, this is a fundraiser that costs nothing, and it's one where everyone can help out,” said Jackson. 

Heitschmidt said that she chose Belize as the destination of the trip for “multiple reasons.”
“The ancient cultures that inhabited the area are significant to the development of the Americas. … There's much we still don't know. It's a culture that's not heavily covered in most public educational settings, but we discuss them in art class,” she said.

For the trip, students will visit Belize's ancient ruins, climb the pyramids, hike trails, taste the cuisine, and experience the daily life of a Belizian.

“It's a good experience for our youth to see what life is like from another's point of view – for them to realize not everyone lives they way we do as Americans. … There is a great disconnect students have by only reading text on a screen or simply hearing their teachers talk about it,” Heitschmidt said.

“Students grow immensely as human beings through travel. They gain awareness of being part of a global community and how we all impact one another on a grander scale. They become independent through learning basic navigation, show responsibility in managing money and time, and learn lots of vital social skills. And, lastly, it just looks like a lot of fun!” she added. “I also chose Belize because it is fairly close to home. The cost is appropriate and affordable for our Blackwell families, which allows more students to have the opportunity to go, and because it is a safe, albeit poor, country,” she said.

For those wishing to help, Heitschmidt said that donations can be made directly to individual students' EF Tour accounts or to the group as a whole through internet links that can be provided by the art department.

Heitschmidt can be contacted at and will respond with a link to donate directly to the group, saying it will be divided evenly amongst the students in the group.

Individual students will receive verification of the donation upon receipt.

Outside the dates listed, shoes can be dropped off at 429 East College. To donate shoes, contact Jackson at 580-363-6319, Rachel Brown at 823-0104, or Christine Gummow at 580-262-1424.