Locals donate more than 22,000 shoes to help provide clean water

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Clean water is something many people in the United States take for granted, but across the world, millions live without safe drinking water.

That is why Becky Girola decided to partner with Waterstep, an organization that provides water purifiers to countries across the world.

She began a benefit in Southwest Louisiana that many people call "Shoes for Water."

"I was thinking it would be a quick little project and that it wouldn't be too much, and it would fit in my garage," Girola said. "But the influx of shoes has been overwhelming."

So far, Girola has counted more than 22,500 pairs of shoes, but she doesn't credit herself for the accomplishment.

"It wasn't me," she said. "It was through the people in our community. Shoes are coming from people who just have old shoes and want to make a difference. It's been an easy way to make a big impact."

The shoes will be sold to a shoe exporter through Waterstep and refurbished as a way to help struggling economies.

"They will take the shoes into other countries and will help people start shoe businesses," Girola said.

The money Waterstep receives from the shoes will fund the purchase of new water purifiers.

"We go to the villages and teach them how to purify water," Girola said. "They get clean drinking water and it helps the health of the village."

Girola said she never expected so much support from the community.

"It has been God telling me to trust him," she said. "There's people here that want to help and they want to help other people and make a difference."

Girola said the shoes will help provide clean water for more than 100,000 people.

For more information on Waterstep, click HERE or visit the local Facebook page at Shoes for water-Louisiana.

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