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What to do with the old soft shoe

By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
OXFORD— When the Parent-Teacher Group (PTG) at Clear Creek Elementary (CCE) went looking for a community service project, they selected a shoe drive. However this shoe collection has an interesting twist to it.
Or should we say, it has a grind to it.
The group partnered with Nike Reuse-A-Shoe to divert used athletic shoes from landfills to new life in athletic related facilities. The program, which Nike started in the 1990s, takes the old shoes and breaks them down into three main components: rubber outer sole, inner foam, and upper fiber. These are then ground into raw materials used in athletic tracks such as at the high school’s athletic complex, soft surfaces for outdoor playgrounds or even a cushion layer under wood basketball court floors.
The PTG kicked-off their effort in August with an Oct. 29 deadline and a goal of 500 pairs. PTG member Mary Trimpe said the drive was the largest project the group has attempted, and was a way to teach the CCE kids about the importance of community service.
“You can recycle, you can do something green, and do it for the community without receiving anything in return for it,” Trimpe said. She added the group felt confident they could reach their goal just within the school in Oxford.
However, by early October only 270 pairs had been collected, well short of the goal. Local radio stations such as KCJJ in Coralville were contacted to get the word out. Trimpe spent two hours on Oct. 23 sitting at City Park in Iowa City to receive shoes and took in another 54 pairs.
117 pairs were delivered from a school district in northern Iowa along with other donations to put the total at 614 pairs.
“It just came all together for us,” Trimpe said.
The group boxed up the shoes and delivered them to a FedEx location where Nike paid for shipping them to their grinding facility in Memphis, Tennessee. Where the grind ends up is anybody’s guess, as Nike processes more than 1.5 million shoes each year and estimates that it takes 75,000 pairs of shoes to provide the surface for one running track and 2,500 for an average playground.
The PTG submitted a short video about the project to Classroom Connections in the hope of winning a $25,000 grand prize.
“We made our goal so we feel we got the response we needed from the community,” a grateful Trimpe said.