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Dearborn Teen Collects Shoes For Special Charity

Baylie Wilson, 16, collected more than 1,000 pairs of shoes, and a charity out of St. Louis is taking them for their worldwide cause.
(DEARBORN, Mo.) At the Community Center in Dearborn, SUVs lined up next to each other all have huge blue bags in the back.

And those bags are full of shoes - lots and lots of shoes.

Baylie Wilson, 16, a junior at North Platte High School, has spent her time since May collecting shoes.

"I go around to most all the churches in my community and say 'Hey I'm collecting shoes for a great cause and usually all of them pitch in a lot," Wilson said.   

And just this week she officially counted the thousandth pair.

"Last year I collected about 608 pairs," Baylie said.  "This year, I collected over 1,000 pairs, which is awesome.  And when I collect them, I give them to the Shoe Man."

The Shoe Man is George Hutchings, founder and CEO of Shoeman Water Projects.

Known for his loud laugh and big cowboy hat, Hutchings takes shoe donations from around the country and takes them to places around the world in need of shoes, and sells them for pennies, nickels, and dimes.

He takes what little money is made on those sales and uses it to fund the drilling of fresh water wells in developing countries that don't have fresh water.

"With water it's a sustainable project," Hutchings said.  "Women will get up at 3:00 in the morning and walk six to eight miles to get water.  It changes the entire economic cycle of a village every time I'm able to drill for water."

Baylie Wilson's donation will go to Kansas City first, and is then planned to head to South America.

The money made there will be used for wells in Haiti.

When realizing the 1,000+ pairs of shoes came from a community with just over 500 people, the Shoe Man was humbled:

"Merry Christmas!" Hutchings exclaimed.  "Thank you to Dearborn, thank you to Baylie, and this surrounding community.  You're bringing water to a thirsty world!"

Wilson plans on doing this again next year. 

She'll set 1,000 pairs of shoes as her goal once again.

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