One Step Shoe Recycling is a new non-profit organization launched by Memorial University student Bethany Downer. It began collecting donations of used footwear from drop-off locations in St. John’s on September 1.

Downer, who aspires to become an astronaut, says that the project was inspired by an encounter with Commander Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut, whom she met at a sustainability leadership conference in May.

“When I asked him how I could realize this dream,” Downer said,“he told me the answer is simple; to prove that you can be passionate about something and can follow through on your word.”

For Downer, this passion was helping those in the community.

Since the donation boxes were set up in churches, schools, and grocery stores in the beginning of September, 1000 pairs of used shoes have already been collected: nearly half of the 2500 pairs that marked their initial goal. Downer and her team of 50 volunteers have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support people in the community have shown.

Downer says that shoes will initially be distributed locally, through organizations such as the Iris Kirby House and NL’s Housing and Homeless Network. Shoes not needed locally will be sent across the country, or to third world countries through Running Free Canada.

To find out more about this cause, or find out where to donate your old shoes, check out the One Step Shoe Recycling website: