A step to helping homeless pets

Voorhees Animal Orphanage collecting shoes for fundraiser

Darla, an adoptable dog at the Voorhees Animal Orphanage, stands amongst shoe donations for the shelter’s current fundraiser. Shoes in new or gently used condition donated to the shelter will benefit nonprofit Funds2Orgs, which in turn will pay the VAO for the donations.

The Voorhees Animal Orphanage is making it easy to take a step toward helping homeless pets.

In a partnership with Funds2Orgs, the VAO is collecting gently used or new shoes. For the shelter, the shoes will convert into cash. For Funds2Orgs, the shoes will provide a sustainable living wage for micro-entrepreneurs in developing nations.

“It’s kind of win-win,” Jennifer Bailey said. “You’re helping animals. You’re helping humans.”

The VAO marketing director saw another rescue group do a shoe drive last year, but didn’t think much of it. However, when the VAO received an email about running its own shoe drive a few months ago, it started a conversation.

“You can only ask people for money so often,” Bailey said. “We thought, let’s give this a whirl.”

The goal is to collect 100 bags, with 25 pairs of shoes in each. That will bring in $1,000. However, “the sky is the limit,” according to Bailey.

“The more we bring in, the more they’ll pay us. And they pay us by the pound, so if anyone has any Doc Martens out there, donate them,” Bailey said with a laugh.

While the fundraiser didn’t officially kick off until last week, volunteers had already started bringing in donations beforehand. Bailey said they’ve gotten plenty of calls from individuals wanting to help — Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, schools and Voorhees Township, too, which offered Town Hall as a collection site.

“You’re not only helping your local animal shelter, but you’re helping a person in need in an underdeveloped country as well. And you’re cleaning your closet out,” Bailey said. “It’s an easy peasy way to help on two continents.”

Funds2Orgs CEO Wayne Elsey said the organization often works with animal rescue groups and shelters.

“A shoe drive fundraiser is a unique way to get people and the community involved in helping them because people don’t have to donate money — just their gently worn, used and new shoes,” Elsey said.

Shoes collected for Funds2Orgs are shipped to countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Local small business entrepreneurs then purchase the shoes for pennies on the dollar, and sell them to retail customers. This helps these people create and grow a profitable business, as well as stimulate the local economy.

“Millions of people in developing countries are in need of work opportunities. Poverty affects employment, education and opportunities in general,” Elsey said. “We’ve seen people go from earning as little as $2 a day, which is considered extreme poverty, to over $60 a day — a living wage.”

All types of shoes are wanted — sneakers, boots, heels, sports cleats and beyond — in all sizes, from children to adult. Pairs of shoes should be rubber-banded or tied together. The fundraiser will run through May 15.

For more information, email info@vaonj.org or visit www.vaonj.org. For more information about Funds2Orgs, visit www.funds2orgs.com.