An innovative way to help the less fortunate is afoot at Mercyhurst University.
In partnership with the Coalition Pathways Lead and Seed program, senior social work major Marissa Zastawa is facilitating the “Within the Sole” shoe drive on campus now until Dec. 17. Zastawa, with the help of the Social Work Club and other members of the Mercyhurst community, hopes to collect 98 pairs of shoes to symbolize the 98 people who died of drug overdoses in Erie County this year.
“We wanted to come up with an idea that would not only raise awareness about the drug overdose issue, but also give back to the Erie community,” Zastawa said.
Currently, about 20 pairs of shoes have been donated. All types of shoes, new or used, can be dropped into collection boxes located in Warde Hall, Zurn Hall and Old Main.
Once she reaches her goal, Zastawa aims to organize all 98 pairs of shoes in a display on campus to denote the magnitude of how many lives were lost from this preventable cause. After the one-day display is removed, the shoes will be distributed to shelters and other nonprofit agencies in Erie.
“A lot of people donate clothes and coats during the winter, but not that many people think to donate shoes,” Zastawa said. “This time of year, when it is snowy and cold in Erie, many people are in need of proper footwear.”
The nationally recognized Coalition Pathways Lead and Seed program is a youth-empowered, adult-supported effort to reduce alcohol, tobacco and other drug use among young people. Zastawa, who is interning with the program as a prevention coordinator, says a particular focus of the program is education and awareness about prescription drug abuse.
“People have old prescriptions lying around their houses and don’t know what to do with them or how to dispose of them properly,” she said. “So an interested teenager, or someone with mental health issues, might be curious to experiment with them. It’s important for the community to know that drug abuse is equally dangerous with prescriptions as with drugs on the street.”
For more information about the “Within the Sole” shoe drive, contact Zastawa at firstname.lastname@example.org