Local Organization is Making a Difference in Indy & Beyond
Since 2005, the leaders of Changing Footprints have been taking in local donations to make a global change. What started out as a simple shoe collection project in Rushville, Indiana, has now grown into five collection and sorting facilities across the state, including a location in Greenwood.
Founded by Maureen Leisure and Bob Broughton of Rushville, Changing Footprints has used more than 600 volunteers to distribute over 400,000 pairs of new or gently used shoes over the last 15 years. The organization distributed 80,000 pairs of shoes in 2019. While a majority of the shoes stayed local, others went around the country and the world including Ghana, Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kenya and Nepal.
In Greenwood, Scott Splichal serves as the Changing Footprints manager and team leader for southside Indianapolis, and he works alongside board director and business networking specialist Noah Barrow as well as outreach ministries coordinator Jack Williams. Together, the three men volunteer their time to collect, sort and distribute shoes to those in need.
“I love being involved and giving back because I know how lucky I am to have the things that I’ve had,” Splichal says. “It’s all about giving back to the community when you feel fortunate for the things you have.”
And giving back is what Changing Footprints is all about. According to Williams, collecting shoes is just the tool the staff uses to get out into the community and into the right places around the city. In fact, the south Indy location has collected everything from coats and clothing to household items and food.
“This stuff just comes into us,” Williams says. “We never know what we’re going to get.”
Changing Footprints partners with other local organizations to host giveaways to pay it forward. Partners like the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, the Salvation Army, Wheeler Mission, Orangetheory Fitness, and Coburn Place have all been vessels for shoe distribution or collection, and the south Indy team hopes the partnerships and the giving will continue to grow.
“The need has always been there, but the need didn’t know we existed,” Splichal says. “We didn’t know what the need was, but now that we’re coming closer together, this thing is just snowballing.”
The growth is encouraging but comes with new challenges. In August of 2019 the south Indy team found a temporary sorting facility, but is now in need of more space, funding, and volunteers that are willing to collect shoe bins, sort and clean shoes, and help run events.
Barrow says he initially signed up to volunteer because it was something he could do with his kids.
“Volunteering is one of the best things,” he says. “Whether you can volunteer for an hour a month or an hour a day, it doesn’t matter. Everybody is really motivated to help. It’s great. There’s nobody involved who doesn’t want to be here.”
Changing Footprints accepts donations throughout the year, and hosts a variety of outreach events around the city. With a strong community and support system, every volunteer can make a difference one opportunity at a time, through one pair of shoes at a time.
The Changing Footprints southside Indianapolis facility is located at 5602 Elmwood Avenue, Suite 113 (by appointment only). For more information, including a contact page, explore changingfootprints.org.