Through the Student Alumni Association, Viall and a team of 15 fellow students have organized a sneaker drive that is running through May 1, when the organization hosts its annual Oozeball event on campus. The goal is to collect donations of new and used sneakers for GreenSneakers, which restores sneakers and distributes them around the world to people in need of affordable footwear.
“GreenSneakers is able to take athletic and tennis sneakers in any condition and make them usable for people all over the world,” Viall said. “They benefit third-world and developing nations that don’t have other means for footwear.”
Viall, a public relations major from Taunton, Mass., learned about GreenSneakers while competing in a Warrior Dash race in upstate New York last August. Members of SAA have been working with GreenSneakers since December to organize the month-long drive on campus. The drive will culminate on May 1 at Oozeball – SAA’s annual volleyball in the mud tournament. Viall is hoping participants will be willing to donate their sneakers after they are done competing.
“Tying the drive in with Oozeball made sense because each year so many people just toss their sneakers away as they leave the field,” Viall said. “With the collection drive, we can salvage the sneakers and they’ll be used for a good cause while also being more environmentally friendly.”
URI also will benefit in other ways. For each pound of sneakers that SAA collects, GreenSneakers will donate 50 cents to the Rhody the Ram Endowment, a scholarship found that supports the student mascot volunteers. A portion of the proceeds raised also will go to Japan relief funds for victims of the recent devastation there.
In addition to Oozeball, members of SAA will be collecting sneakers at the following events this month:
• Wednesday, April 20 – Student Entertainment Committee’s Lobster Bake, Mocktails and Smoothie Bar on the Quad. 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
• Thursday, April 21 – The Senior Send-Off. Behind the Alumni Center. 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
• Friday, April 29 – Student Senate’s Cookout at Ellery Pond. 3 p.m. until 5 p.m.
• Saturday, April 30 – Hempfest on the Quad. 11 a.m. until midnight.
Viall also has worked with student groups and other organizations around campus to collect sneakers. Several club teams and the URI College of Pharmacy chapter of Lambda Kappa Sigma have been collecting footwear, as have members of the Greek system.
“A lot of individuals have come together to make this happen, and I can’t say thank you enough to them,” Viall said. “The team within SAA has been fantastic, and the groups around campus have really stepped up to help out a great cause.”
The goal is to collect 2,500 pairs of sneakers. If you are unable to donate during the five designated times remaining this month, you can contact Viall at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a donation.