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Cottage Grove Middle School students who do the morning announcements are encouraging people to donate tennis shoes. Pictured are (from left) Brady Burbank, Sam Johnson and Connor Mitchell. The school's R.A.H. Club is also helping. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

Cottage Grove Middle School gets creative with shoe collection

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Everyone has them and Cottage Grove Middle School wants them.

Students want people to donate used tennis shoes to be recycled to people in developing countries and those who have experienced natural disasters.

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Next year's eighth-graders are depending on the donations.

The school's shoe drive earns 50 cents a pound for the shoes. That money will pay for an anti-bullying program from Youth Frontiers for an eighth-grade retreat.

But, wait, there's another goal, too. If the school collects 1,000 pounds of shoes, it's eligible to compete for up to $5,000.

The students' goal is to shoot for the moon and collect 3,000 pounds of shoes. No stone -- or possible source of retreat funding -- has been overlooked. Those who brought shoes to a dance got $1 dollar off the ticket price.

During a pick-your-favorite-movie after-school showing, boxes were labeled with movie titles. The "Brave" box was the winner but so were those who need the shoes. If kids didn't contribute shoes, the fundraisers got them another way. They got a share of the concessions.

The kids -- including eighth-grader Connor Mitchell, who works at concessions and helps with morning announcements -- are on board for trying to get used tennis shoes from everyone.

Brady Burbank and Sam Johnson, are in eighth grade and will be at Park High School next year when next year's eighth-graders go on their retreat, also do morning announcements holding up a small green tennis shoe as a visual.

"I like to help out other people," Burbank said.

District 833 students raise money for charities such as Pennies for Patients, but this one is different in that students can see the results of their efforts.

Cottage Grove Middle School also has a contest between students and staff members to see which group can collect the most pounds of shoes.

"The way we're getting shoes makes it more fun," Johnson said.

Everybody checks the poster in the front hall to see who is winning, Burbank said.

Teachers Jean Kilgore and Asia Bednar are helping the students with the fund drive.

Gently used tennis shoes with no rips or tears are accepted but not shoes with cleats. Keep the Crocs, flip-flops and dress shoes at home. Shoes can be delivered to the school's lobby where there is a collection box. Donated shoes just need to be put in a bag.

But, wait, there's another way to donate shoes. If there's a box of shoes, Kilgore will pick them up. E-mail her at jkilgore@sowashco.k12.mn.us.

This won't be the last chance to help raise money for the retreat. Along with Oltman Middle School, there will be 5K run on May 18 and with the help of the Cottage Grove Lions Club, there will be a dance at the Activity Center with dodgeball. Profits will be split between the schools for eighth-grade retreats.

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Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600
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