Jennifer Rickstad stands in front of about 80 bags of shoes collected at Washington Street Elementary.
Spring cleaning? We'll take your shoes! The shoe drive for Backpack Buddies is in its final month and we need your help to reach our goal.

There’s now less than one month for Otsego’s Backpack Buddies program to reach its goal of collecting 7500 pairs of shoes to help feed students on the weekends. The final push is on and we’re hoping the spring weather brings about spring cleaning and an influx of old shoes that people want to give away.

Backpack Buddies is a program that provides food on the weekends and over holiday breaks for students who rely on the school for much of their meals. The shoe collection is coordinated through Funds2Orgs. Funds2Orgs collects new or gently used shoes to support efforts in developing countries, “They don’t have to be new, they just need to be in decent shape so others can get use out of them,” says Jennifer Rickstad, the Backpack Buddies program coordinator at Washington Street Elementary. Funds2Orgs will pay 40 cents per pound. The organization gave Otsego 100 bags to get started; each bag can hold about 25 pairs of shoes. The goal is to fill 300 bags which is estimated to turn into about $3,000 for the program. Right now, the district has filled 155 bags so they are asking for the community’s help. There are shoe donation boxes at all of our schools as well as several local businesses including:

  • Tengam
  • RWE Healthy Living
  • Patti Herm School of Dance
  • Otsego Health and Fitness
  • Cut 'n Loose
  • Baraga Manor
  • Emerald Apts.
  • Hollywood Nails
  • Perrigo
  • United Methodist Church
  • Congregational Church
  • Safari

“This is a fundraiser that won’t cost people anything and they likely have shoes they’d like to get rid of so this is a win-win,” explains Rickstad. Backpack Buddies serves about 60 students across the district, but the need is much greater. It costs about $150 to fund one child for the school year. Backpack Buddies works with Centerpoint Church to get food items such as cereal, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and other items to send home with students on Fridays.