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Jason Olson, Deseret News
Todd Fugal, left, and Skyler Williams count the shoe donations gathered as part of Project Sole Saturday.

OREM — One pair of shoes can provide relief for one person in a Third World country, but 25 million pairs of shoes can build a new science and health building at Utah Valley University.

Approximately 50 UVU students went door-to-door around Orem Saturday, collecting used footwear from neighbors.

Saturday's shoe drive worked in conjunction with Project Sole, a Las Vegas-based nonprofit that collects gently used athletic shoes to sell in Third World countries at discounted prices. The organization aims to provide much-needed shoes while it stimulates the local economy. UVU will receive $2 for every pair of shoes donated to Project Sole.

Although students do not plan to collect 25 million pairs of shoes, they do have a goal of eventually collecting 4,000 pairs, which will give them $8,000 to contribute to the fund to build a new science and health building at UVU.

The current building was designed to accommodate 8,000 students, but more than 22,000 students use the building.

Kristopher Lange, the UVU Student Association senator for the college of science and health, said UVU has the least amount of square footage per student of any state university. For comparison, UVU has approximately 121 square feet per student, while the University of Utah has 460.

Saturday's drive brought in more than 300 pairs of acceptable athletic shoes, plus 300 pairs of dress shoes that will be sold at a garage sale to raise additional funds. Bins placed around campus had collected 205 pairs of acceptable athletic shoes from students prior to Saturday.

"We're going to keep doing this," Lange said. "We have plans to do this again in a month."

In addition to smaller-scale fundraisers, Lange said he and a group of students submitted a petition to the Legislature for a new science building with signatures from more than 3,000 students. Lange said he hoped Saturday's success would give a good message to the Legislature.

Skyler Williams, vice president of fundraising for the student alumni board, said the science building is high on the Legislature's building committee's list.

"It's going to happen," Williams said. "Maybe not this year, but then it will happen next year."

Students teamed up in small groups and set out to gather as many pairs of shoes as possible. The team that brought back the most collected 51 athletic pairs of shoes and 50 pairs of dress shoes.

UVU students Jordan Anderson, Mallorie Coffin, John Packer and Susan Capunay teamed up and collected 24 pairs of athletic shoes from a neighborhood near UVU. Although many residents said they recently had donated shoes to Deseret Industries or Savers, there were others who were happy to get rid of their old, unused shoes.

The students found that the more shoes they collected and carried door-to-door, the more residents were willing to donate, because they saw the variety of shoes accepted.

Brothers Brad and Jake Beachell of Pleasant Grove approached one man who was working in his garage. The man was pleased to donate shoes in an effort to clear some stuff out of his garage.

"He just leaned over, took off his shoes and gave them to us," Brad Beachell said.

"He also gave us a pair of green boots," Jake Beachell added.

e-mail: ejames@desnews.com