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Wanted: Boots for Haiti

Posted By Victoria A. Rocha On September 26, 2011 @ 4:13 am In International | No Comments

Before you toss out those old lineman boots with the steel shanks, take another look. Someone else might need them.

NRECA International’s Myk Manon with Haitian linemen wearing boots donated by U.S. co-ops. (Photo By: NRECA International) [1]

NRECA International’s Myk Manon with Haitian linemen wearing boots donated by U.S. co-ops. (Photo By: NRECA International)

Two line technicians at Central Virginia Electric Co-op, [2] Lovingston, have begun “Boots for Haiti,” a used boot drive for lineworkers in the impoverished Caribbean nation that is struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake in January 2010.

Inspired by employees Bryon Sandridge and Chris Allen, the co-op recently delivered the first shipment of footwear to Haiti: 50 pairs of new and used boots, mostly donated by Virginia, Delaware and Maryland co-ops.

Sandridge and Allen began the program after returning from a three-week volunteer stint in Haiti [3] in February to help repair the country’s damaged electric system and teach pole-climbing skills.

Right away, they noticed the Haitians lacked proper footwear, specifically lineworker boots with steel shanks to protect the arches of the feet. In some cases, they wore regular street or soft-sole shoes on the job.

“I remember what it was like when I first learned how to climb a pole,” said Allen, a journeyman lineman. “They never complained and they were willing to soldier on, but their feet must have been killing them.”

Originally, Sandridge and Allen wanted to put a box at each of the co-op’s three district offices to collect boots, which can cost as much as $250 for a new pair. But the effort soon mushroomed into something much more.

“We had to do a debriefing at the co-op, and we told them we’d like to collect boots from individuals who were finished with them,” Allen explained. “That was the extent of it. But then, Greg [Kelly, the co-op’s member services director] took it and ran with it.”

Outreach efforts included an appeal on the co-op’s Facebook page and a presentation by Sandridge and Allen at the annual meeting of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Co-ops in July.

And more boots, old and new, are coming, said Kelly, which is good because NRECA International’s Haiti program could use a few hundred more. “Right now, I have five new pairs sitting on my desk,” he said. “We are definitely going to send more.”

To donate used lineworker boots, send them to the NRECA International Foundation. [4] The foundation will send boots to Haiti or to an electrification project in another country demonstrating the greatest need.

Contact Molly K. Uxa, the foundation’s coordinator, at molly.uxa@nreca.coop or 703-907-5645. Ship items to: NRECA International Foundation, Attn: Molly Uxa, 4301 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203.

Article printed from Electric Co-op Today: http://www.ect.coop

URL to article: http://www.ect.coop/newsmakers/international/wanted-boots-for-haiti/34405

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.ect.coop/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/BOOTS1_rs.jpg

[2] Central Virginia Electric Co-op,: http://www.forcvec.com

[3] a three-week volunteer stint in Haiti: http://www.ect.coop/newsmakers/international/co-op-volunteers-heading-to-haiti/23883

[4] NRECA International Foundation.: http://www.nrecainternational.coop/about/Foundation/Pages/default.aspx

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