Motor City Bootcamp owner Jeff Watters never thought much about his growing collection of athletic shoes until he heard of a friend at Michigan State University who was collecting shoes for those in need.
He took a look in his closet and found he had several pairs just sitting there. Now he organizes a shoe collection at his Ferndale fitness studio every year for the same project - Heart and Sole, based in East Lansing.
"I thought that was really cool and I thought it was something that with what I do for a living I could access a lot of people," he said.
The response has been surprising, Watters says.
"I took in almost 50 pair to make some room and I think we have another 25 pair that has come in since then," he said.
Heart and Sole provides new and gently-used shoes to those who can't afford to buy them. Since the project began in 1999, more than 6,000 pairs of shoes have been shipped around the world.
Those who have donated have mostly been his current clients, plus some people who have participated in Motor City Bootcamp races - such as the Frozen Watters Trail Run coming up Jan. 26. To help encourage people to donate, Watters is offering a free week of training to anyone who brings in shoes.
"Some people that I haven't seen in a long time have stopped by and left some here," he said.
Motor City Bootcamp is located at 23446 Woodward Avenue. If you want to drop off gently-used shoes to donate, contact Watters at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm business hours.