LB Lionesses collecting shoes for water

It’s time to clean out those closets and maybe donate some old shoes to a good cause. The Lord Baltimore Lioness Club will host a used shoe drive Thursday, April 16, at 6:30 p.m. at South Coastal Library. The service club has also invited teenager Emma Rider to give a firsthand account of her experiences in transforming old shoes into clean water.

“This is just something different. This affects the whole world,” said Lioness Kay Gebhardt. “Water problems all over the world are important. There are so many people all over the world that don’t have clean water.”

A high-school senior from Bridgeville, Rider won the national Jefferson Award for her work with WaterStep, a non-profit that works to ensure clean, safe water supplies around the world. Donated shoes should be new or gently worn and in usable condition. They are sold to an exporter, and the profits pay for clean-water programs. That includes public education, sanitation systems, water treatment or more.

After filling a tractor-trailer with shoes, Rider met her initial goal five times over, and she’s since visited WaterStep projects in person, including ones in Kenya, India, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Costa Rica.

She’ll share some of her experiences with the Lionesses.

Imagine a woman who walks miles every day to reach a clean well. She spends a lifetime carrying water containers on her head, which leads to back problems.

With a Lioness donation, Gebhardt said, Rider can purchase and donate “water balls” to such women — similar to a 5-gallon wheelbarrow.

And, in addition to raising funds for the charity, the shoe drives keep unwanted shoes out of the landfill.

“Everybody has shoes they don’t wear anymore, and it goes for a good cause,” said Gebhardt, who currently has a trunkful of shoes for donation.

“This is just one of the many community activities that the Lord Baltimore Lionesses support, and they’re looking for new members. It’s a fun group. We have a lot of activities going on,” Gebhardt said. “We keep pretty busy. … For a small group of people, we do a lot of good.”

Anyone who can’t attend the April 16 event can visit another WaterStep drop-off point. Local businesses that collect shoes for WaterStep on a regular basis include: Del-One, 30650 DuPont Boulevard in Dagsboro, and Long & Foster Real Estate, 33298 S. Coastal Highway in South Bethany. Learn more at