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What do Shoes have to do with Water?

If you live in Louisville, you have most likely seen a WaterStep shoe collection box at a local business around town. Or perhaps your child has come home with a flyer advertising an upcoming shoe drive at their school benefiting WaterStep. The notoriety of our shoe program continues to grow in Louisville and is now expanding to areas like Chicago and Cincinnati. 

When groups tour our facility we are often asked, “What in the world do shoes have to do with water?” This is a great question! The answer is our shoe program helps fund our water projects around the world – projects that have saved more than 2.8 million lives. The shoes we collect are sold to an exporter and funds received are used to help bring safe water to those in need. There are currently more than 7 million people worldwide who do not have access to safe water.

In addition to helping fund water projects, the shoes provide micro-business opportunities for people in the developing world, giving them a way to support their family and boosting the economy in their community. The shoes become affordable footwear for people who now have increased protection from disease, as a result of wearing shoes

We process an average of 30,000 pounds of shoes each month through our Louisville headquarters. Each shoe that comes through the building has to be sorted, creating many volunteer opportunities. We have volunteers sorting shoes M-F during business hours and we offer some after hours options as well (such as our new Sip and Sort event – pictured above). If you are interested in volunteering at WaterStep, please contact

In 2019, there were 155 shoe drives held to benefit WaterStep. We also have over 300 locations around town that are permanent collection sites for us. Thank you to all of our supporters who make our shoe program successful and who, ultimately, save lives with safe water around the world!

Are you interested in hosting a shoe drive or know a business that would like to be a collection site? Please contact

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