When sophomore Joseph Puntoriero wore out yet another pair of running shoes, he didn’t see worn out pieces of leather. He saw an opportunity.
Rather than throwing his shoes away, Puntoriero contacted a group called Soles4Souls. Based out of Tennessee, the group collects shoes in any condition—whether brand new or beyond repair—and donates them to anyone in need. Shoes that are too worn to wear again are recycled and made into new footwear.
However, Puntoriero didn’t want to donate just his shoes. A member and the public relations chair of Beta Theta Pi, he wanted to get his entire fraternity involved.
“I’m a runner, so I go through shoes like no other,” said Puntoriero. “I know other athletes do as well. A lot of [Beta] is athletes, so a lot of shoes are lying around.”
Puntoriero originally heard about the organization through his mother, who had worked with them in the past. He was able to get the number of the company, at which point “they immediately got me on a wire to their fraternity and sorority representative.”
According to the representative, only a week or so was necessary to hold a used shoe drive, so Puntoriero took the idea to his chapter.
“He just took off and ran with it,” Beta philanthropy chair junior Dan Page said.
As a result of their combined efforts, Beta will be holding a used shoe drive on campus from Oct. 22 to 25, chosen because it is Homecoming weekend.
“There’s going to be the most people on campus this weekend,” said Page.
Anyone with shoes to donate can simply leave them in a box on Beta’s porch between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. If people would prefer to make a cash donation (Beta must pay to ship the collected shoes to the organization), any Beta can collect their contribution.
“It’s a great way to help the community,” said Puntoriero. “Anyone can do it. Anyone has leftover shoes.”
Depending on the success of the drive, Beta hopes to make it an annual event. Although Soles4Souls assists any place in need, they do make an effort to donate back to the community originally donating the shoes.
“It literally is any kind of shoe—new, old, holes in it, grass stained, anything in between,” said Puntoriero. “They’ll use it.”