Do you know native Missourian and Ballwin resident George Hutchings, The Shoeman? Perhaps you’ve seen him on the local news, heard one of his presentations at a church, school or business or read about him on Patch.
Possibly you’ve seen him in his iconic black cowboy hat and boots in the Winchester Plaza Bread Company, his office away from his office. Maybe you’ve seen the Soles for Souls drop off signs at various businesses in the area. If you have wondered why "The Shoeman" focuses on bringing clean water to Kenyans and Haitians, there are many reasons. If you have pondered how in the world shoes are turned into water, there’s a short explanation here.
"The Shoeman" currently has a generous offer of matching funds for cash donations given between now and December 24. This story says it all. I can’t think of a better way to maximize the “bang for your charity buck” than by making a donation to Eagle Wings Ministries for this mission. Thanks to an anonymous donor who is offering matching funds, your donation will be doubled. That’s significant to me. If Shoeman Water Projects can raise enough money to buy a drilling rig that can drill in rock, they will be able to bring clean water to many additional schools and villages.
You may wonder why I'm focusing on "The Shoeman" when there are so many charities that need donations. Here are my primary reasons:
It’s hard to imagine not having clean water with the simple turn of a faucet. Water is truly necessary to sustain life yet most Americans take its quality and availability for granted. Since 2009, I have watched George work tirelessly, day after day, night after night, following leads to increase his shoe donations, managing speaking engagements, driving from state to state, loading and unloading tons of shoes. He often sacrifices his health as he tolls to reach his goal of bringing water to those who otherwise will die an early death.
I met George almost 3 years ago when he responded to my plea for help. I called him in desperation, hoping that he could help an African refugee that I met through my volunteer hours in an ESL (English as a Second Language) adult class. I had seen an ad for Shoeman Water Projects and their work in Kenya.I rationalized that George must have a heart for Africa since he was working to bring water to people in Kenya. Every other direction I turned to as a resource seemed to lead to a dead end. Calling George was a long shot, but it paid off.
He helped in many ways—offering job contacts for my refugee friend and hours of his time to help this person in several ways. Due to his willingness to help my African friend and my observations of his dedication to his cause, George has definitely earned my respect and friendship.
I believe in George and his work so I’m asking you to consider helping George and his team this holiday season to accomplish their goals. It's the least I can do in return for the kindess he offered me, a total stranger who asked for his assistance with a difficult situation. Now he needs to raise $10,000 before December 24 which will become $20,000 thanks to an anonymous donor. You can make a secure online donation at The Shoeman Water Project website.
Also consider giving your used shoes, cell phones or used vehicles. You can search for drop off locations by zip here. George can use all the support you can give him in order to purchase the drill they need for their trip to Kenya in January.
Some final thoughts according to Global Foot Prints:
- One child dies every eight seconds because of unclean water or poor sanitation.
- At least 1 in every 6 people in the world does not have access to clean drinking water.
- An estimated 1.6 million lives could be saved annually by providing access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.
- Agriculture and farming is responsible for about 80% of all freshwater used.
- Households in rural Africa spend about a quarter of their working day collecting water.
- Just 1 flush of a toilet uses more water than most Africans have to use in a day.