PTKAW Shoe Drive helps needy Topekans

Shoes aplenty: PTKAW Vice President for Marketing, Cecilia Castillo-Nuno sets up a Shoe Drive box in Morgan Hall. PTKAW's effort to help Topekans has been noticed and appreciated by many. 

The annual PTKAW Shoe Drive is active now, with lots of boxes spread around campus that can be used to donate new or gently used shoes to Doorstep.

Few organizations on campus can rival the charitable work that Phi Theta Kappa Alumni of Washburn (PTKAW) does during the year. Over the past month, PTKAW worked closely with Pine Ridge Family Health Center to gather much needed medical supplies to be distributed by the local clinic to the poor in Topeka. However, instead of Band-Aids and cotton balls, PTKAW is looking for our favorite adornment for our feet: shoes.

The shoe drive project originally got off the ground in the spring semester of 2016. Currently, it takes place at the end of every fall and spring semester. The donated shoes are collected at the end of the semester and given to Doorstep, which distributes the shoes to those who need them.

Doorstep is a local nonprofit organization that focuses on providing short-term emergency aid to individuals in need. They also provide information on available services to promote long-term self-sufficiency in their clients. They have a unique connection to Washburn University in that they have been providing services to people in the Topeka community since 1966 after the infamous Tornado struck the city.

Shoes can be donated in any of the boxes that have been set up around campus. Some of the locations listed by PTKAW include: Mabee Library, the Living Learning Center, Henderson Learning Resources Center, the Memorial Union and the Law School Building. The boxes are decorated by PTKAW and can be found all over campus.

PTKAW’s efforts to collect shoes have been met with great success in the past, more than what many of the members of the honor society could have ever expected.

“I was here when we started the project,” said Paul Flumen, who holds a Master’s degree in accountancy and is the founder of PTKAW at Washburn. “At first, we only had four to five boxes. At the time we thought that we might get a few bags out of this and it would be a good opportunity to raise awareness and springboard this into a potentially successful project in the future.”

The organization managed to collect over 150 pairs of shoes that first year which was far above expectations.

“My arms were about to fall off because I was making multiple trips between the car and the Washburn Village,” said Flumen. “We were flabbergasted because we hadn’t done any promotion, hadn’t done any fliers, all we did was put the box down. It got the attention of faculty and the students very quickly.”

The outpouring of donations made to PTKAW in that first year and the years to follow have made the honor society well-known in the Topeka area, especially among the faith-based organizations that make up Doorstep.

“This is my second year with PTKAW and the third shoe drive that I have participated in,” said Emily Jardon, current President of PTKAW. “In the spring of last year I got to collect the box from the LLC and it was overflowing with shoes. So, that was a really great experience to see that the students and the residents had donated so much.”

PTKAW, and by extension, Doorstep, accepts shoes of all sizes for the donations as long as they are in good condition. Doorstep also takes donations year-round for a variety of other items. If you would like to donate shoes or any other items to Doorstep, visit their website at https://doorsteptopeka.org/ or visit their physical location at 1119 SW 10th Ave.

“It’s a really great opportunity as a student to be helping the community and being involved with helping Topeka,” said Jardon. “I think it’s great to be talking about this and how people need these shoes. For me, I’m able to bring that voice to campus through PTKAW and the shoe drive.”

Keep an eye out for any of the multiple shoe box locations on campus and feel free to donate your gently used or new shoes to the needy of Topeka. The shoe drive will conclude at the end of this year as each box is collected and sent to Doorstep in Topeka.

Edited by Jackson Woods, Jason Morrison, Adam White

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