Volunteers for the Friends of the Animal Shelter are hoping to collect 7,500 pair of boots, sandals, tennis shoes and other footwear to raise money for homeless dogs and cats.

Joining forces with an international nonprofit, Funds2Orgs, FOTAS coordinators said the shoe-collection effort is off to a fast start since its launch this week, with the shelter already meeting nearly a third of its collection goal.

Footwear donations have arrived at the Jackson County Animal Shelter in bags and boxes and are being stored by the hundreds at a network of homes inhabited by shelter employees, volunteers and FOTAS-affiliated folks.

Alex Spindler, support services associate, said the Funds2Org concept was discovered online and felt like a unique idea to try.

While some shoe-collection efforts yield recyclable rubber for athletic turf, the Funds2Orgs effort is focused on breathing new life into gently used shoes.

Funds2Org works with charities and shelters, collecting shoes of any size and variety that have some life left in them, Spindler explained.

Donated shoes are purchased from the fundraising group and refurbished to provide job skills and an income for those doing the work.

“It’s pretty unique and different than what a lot of people imagine a fundraiser to be. After refurbishment, they’re given to microbusinesses and developing nations to help with starting an economy in the area,” Spindler said.

“The funds come back to the original charities, they provide a job skill and an income for the refurbisher, and then stimulate the economy somewhere else. One donation helps multiple people, which is kind of amazing.”

Funds2Orgs has been around since being founded by Wayne Elsey, former president of an international shoe-manufacturing company, after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

Now one of the largest nonprofits in the U.S., Funds2Orgs has shipped more than 20 million pairs of shoes to places affected by natural disasters.

Spindler said it’s an interesting sight to see hundreds upon hundreds of shoes piling up at the local shelter.

“We’ve gotten every variation on shoes you can imagine — dressy shoes for job interviews, boots for people working, lots of tennis shoes. … We are approaching about 100 bags of shoes with 20 to 25 pairs per bag. So we probably have at least 2,000 pairs that have been donated already.”

“Our office is not large, so it’s been like a clearinghouse as we bag them up and prepare them," he added. "Then volunteers and FOTAS staff are housing them. I’m assuming there are a fair amount of garages in our community that probably look like temporary shoe warehouses right now.”

Spindler said people can drop off shoes at the shelter, 5595 S. Pacific Highway, Phoenix, seven days per week, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. weekends.

See online: www.fotas.org; https://funds2orgs.com

— Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com