As an organization that has a small budget, we are always careful with our money, and always looking for ways to save without impacting our outreach. During this last trip as we took our group on a tour of the local market, I noticed that many vendors had a Croc style shoe by the Chicote brand, which was of equal quality and material as the Croc brand. These shoes can be purchased on average for $4 per pair depending on size.
Our current collection method requires folks to shop for shoes, take them to your church or designated drop location. We are then contacted to pick up the shoes. The shoes are then sorted by size and gender, and placed in sealed storage containers to be stored until our next trip. We then try to decide what shoes we will need and pack about 30-50 pairs of shoes in each suitcase. The additional luggage is usually $50 per bag. We usually have 4 to 6 suitcases of shoes at a cost of $300. Also once a year we piggy back on a container going to Hope of Life, another ministry nearby. The shoes are then vacuum packed in a box, loaded on a trailer and driven an hour and a half to Gleaning for the World in the Lynchburg, Virginia area. Unloaded onto a pallet and shrink wrapped, to await the voyage to Guatemala, which may take several months before we are able to pick them up. This year the cost for shipping is $400/pallet. This cost does not include the transportation expense to Lynchburg, or the transportation to pick up in Guatemala, the storage containers, shipping boxes and shipping materials. So the real cost of storing and shipping a pallet of shoes is closer to $700.
We will be switching to a donation driven system that will allow us to be more responsible and actually make a greater impact. With the cost savings, we can purchase an additional 175 pairs of shoes, which could supply a small village of children with new shoes. In addition, our team in Guatemala will not need to wait for the shipment to arrive to make an impact. We will have the ability to provide shoes on demand as we see needs. This will allow us to reach more children with the Gospel message that Jesus loves them, which is the ultimate purpose of this shoe ministry.
Think about this, a $24 donation will put shoes on the feet of at least 6 children, a whole family in most cases! I am excited that God has opened this new door for us to purchase quality shoes at a fantastic price, that will bless more families in the name of JESUS!