The Brainerd High School a cappella choir hopes shoes are going to be their ticket to Puerto Rico.

The group is busy collecting new and gently used shoes for its funds2orgs shoe drive, an effort spearheaded by cappella mom and BHS teacher Kelly McConkey.

“Everybody has shoes to get rid of,” McConkey said. “Whether it’s three pairs or 12.”

The choir students collect shoes and put them into bags of 25 pairs. For every pound of shoes collected, funds2orgs pays the group $0.40. The goal is to collect at least 100 bags.

With the amount of kids in a cappella choir, McConkey said each student only needs to collect about two bags to meet the goal, but they can continue collecting as many as they want to earn even more money for the trip, or to help out their peers.

“I think it gives a chance for kids to really earn a lot if they really want to go for it,” she said.

McConkey said those at funds2orgs told her 100 bags of shoes usually translates to roughly $1,000. The cost for each student to go on the Puerto Rico trip in February is about $1,700.

After collecting the shoes, funds2orgs sends them to micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries, where residents in need will learn about business and entrepreneurship by cleaning up the shoes and getting the opportunity to sell them for a profit to help themselves out of poverty.

McConkey described it as the perfect fundraiser.

“I’m getting rid of things, and it’s helping somebody else,” she said, noting the students don’t have to go door-to-door selling anything either and don’t have to compete with other fundraisers of that type starting in the fall.

“I think it’s just a cool opportunity,” McConkey added. “It’s neat, too, that you’re helping somebody else in another country who can them make money for themselves.”

The shoe drive will last until at least Sept. 14. That’s the deadline funds2orgs gave the group, but McConkey said they may not come right away to pick the shoes up, and the students can continue fundraising until the shoes are claimed.

If the group doesn’t collect at least 100 bags of shoes, the students will be charged a $250 pickup fee, deducted from their earnings. If they meet or surpass that goal, though, all the money will go to the choir students.

McConkey herself has collected about 25 bags of shoes so far by reaching out to community members and placing a donation box at Lord of Life Church in Baxter, where anyone can drop off shoes. She is also willing to pick up shoes from anyone who has them and can be reached at kelly.mcconkey@isd181.org. She urged parents to put donation boxes at their churches, too.

If anyone wants to donate shoes to a specific choir student, they should contact that student or parent directly, or McConkey said she can help them get in touch.

Once school starts, McConkey will place a donation at the high school. That bin will act as a community fund, with the proceeds collected from those shoes split evenly among the choir students.

All sizes and styles of shoes are accepted, from baby and kids’ shoes, all the way up to winter boots. Shoes can be new or used and must be in good condition with no holes.

For more information on funds2orgs, visit https://funds2orgs.com/faq/.