Our Opinion: Modern alchemy transforms shoes into fresh water

In a modern version of ancient alchemy, a partnership is turning old shoes into fresh water for needy Haitians.

Alchemy refers to the concept, traced to antiquity, that base metals can be turned into gold. Practitioners continue to fail.

A modern derivation involving local partners, however, has succeeded in providing two 500-gallon water tanks with a purification system to the remote Haitian village of Mare Blanche.

And the success story can be traced to humble origins — specifically collections of old shoes.

The principle partners involved in the operation are: Hope for Caribbean Kids Inc., a local nonprofit group; StorageMart, which operates a local facility at 2420 St. Mary’s Blvd.; and Shoeman Water Projects, based in Fenton.

The Hope group, in partnership with StorageMart, this spring conducted a shoe collection, Shoes to Benefit Kids in Haiti.

A total of 4,200 pounds of shoes from schools, churches, organization and individuals were collected

The footwear was transferred to the Water Projects program, which sells them to vendors and uses the proceeds for water projects worldwide.

The water storage and purification will be vital to the people of Mare Blanche, said Iva Presberry, co-founder of the Hope group. She noted the village is remote and still recovering from a devastating earthquake in Haiti.

“The water purification system is an important step toward helping the people of Mare Blanche meet requirements to qualify for school (benefits) from Mission of Hope and other food sources in Haiti,” she said.

StorageMart continues to collect discarded shoes and store them in a unit at its local facility. Shoes may be any size and style, but must have no holes and be paired together.

The moral of this episode is simple — helping others sometimes can be as easy as donating, rather than discarding, old shoes.

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