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Gateway2Give Turns Used Shoes, Handbags into Money

Ballwin-based Gateway2Give's goal is to help local groups with fundraisers and impact countries around the world by donating funds for water wells.

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Old, smelly, grass-stained tennis shoes. That ugly purse you haven't known what to do with for six years.

Gateway2Give, a St. Louis-area social enterprise based in West County, has been taking those shoes and handbags -- however smelly or used -- and putting them to good use since the summer of 2012.

The organization currently uses a warehouse in Chesterfield Valley at Berry Door and Window. The organization also has office space at the Barn at Lucerne in Ballwin.

Julie Scaglione, Gateway2Give's founder, has a business background and has been volunteering with repurposing organizations for several years.

"I wanted to find a way to help local people and have a global impact," Scaglione told Patch.

Scaglione, a current resident of Manchester, came up with Gateway2Give, a drive to repurpose used shoes and handbags and turn them into funds for local groups and charities.

But the buck doesn't stop here in St. Louis. The funds raised through shoe and handbag donations are split evenly between the group running the drive and Clean Water Mission (CWM), the flipside of Gateway2Give that aids in installing clean water wells throughout the world. The cost for operations is about a third of what is raised.

Scaglione described a visit to Haiti in 2010, relating to the mothers there struggling to care for their children with limited resources, or, as she said, "water everywhere" but all of it contaminated.

"I knew I needed to come back and bring awareness to a need for clean water more than anything," Scaglione said.

So with a business background and a passion to raise awareness and funds for CWM's operation, Scaglione decided to use repurposing exporters that make use of materials from handbags and shoes, and channel those funds back to groups who sponsored the drives and simultaneously aid Clean Water Mission.

Scaglione explained groups can also choose to solely support Clean Water Mission, with 85 percent of funds going to CWM and only 15 percent toward operation costs.

"We can work with any group looking to raise money," Scaglione said. "Our main action item is to let schools, groups, charities use this as an alternative way to raise funds."

Scaglione suggested setting a group and individual goal to help "make it more fun" and competitive. She added Gateway2Give has teamed up with 15 to 20 groups since launch in Summer 2012 to help with fundraisers.

Gateway2Give and CWM are also launching a campaign to mark World Water Day on March 22 called, "Get Tanked." The year-long campaign will raise funds for a village water tank to be installed in Uganda, the price of which Scaglione said is about $5,000.

St. Joseph Catholic School in Manchester is working on their Gateway2Give drive in February. Find out more in the announcement posted on Patch.

For more information about Gateway2Give and how to start a shoe and handbag drive, visit Gateway2Give's website.

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