It’s been two years since Hingham High School outpaced Duxbury High in a sneaker drive, collecting 729 pairs of shoes for donation and recycling.
Now, the Harbormen will take on Silver Lake Regional High School in the same initiative.
“We challenged Duxbury for a repeat and they didn’t want to do it last year, so we decided let's take off a year and try it again this year,” said Hingham High Assistant Principal Rick Swanson. “We threw it out to several schools, and Silver Lake was the one that decided to do it with us.”
The sneakers go to one of two places, depending on their condition. For gently used pairs, the footwear is donated to the Red Cross for reuse.
“We’ll make a determination if the shoe is in good enough condition to be reworn, we’ll donate it to charity,” Swanson said. “It seems like a more worthwhile use. We get shoes in good condition we like to see them used by somebody in need.”
For more abused pairs, shoes go to Nike’s “Re-Use a Shoe” program, which recycles footwear for use in tennis courts, tracks, basketball courts, and other athletic surfaces.
“I have a feeling majority of the shoes will end up being donated,” Swanson said. “Majority were in good enough condition to be reused, but we still did send hundreds of pairs to Nike to be ground down and turned into athletic surfaces. It’s doing something good – giving those shoes to people in need and serving an environmental purpose.”
The mission is in line with Hingham’s environmental standards as well. In the school cafeteria, recycling and composting is heavily encouraged.
The school hosts several Earth Day-type events throughout the year, and brings in speakers known for the environmental background.
“We hope infuse in students a sense that you can recycle almost anything. Think before you throw something in the trash,” Swanson said.
To step up the rivalry a bit more, both sides have agreed to honor the winner during a halftime presentation at the boys' varsity basketball game on Feb. 14.
In the race against Duxbury two years ago, the winner was honored at the halftime of the schools' football game.
Hingham and Silver Lake are Patriot League rivals in basketball, and Swanson hopes the competitive nature of this competition amps up participation.
“It will be up to the basketball team to win it on the court, but every student in the school can contribute to winning the sneaker drive, and in some ways is a lot more meaningful than what happens on the court,” Swanson said.
At Silver Lake, Student Council Advisor Tony Pina, who is also the JV basketball coach, will head up the initiative.
Pina said that the project fit in nicely with service projects Silver Lake does on an annual basis, and that the student body has been excited about donating shoes for a good cause.
Pina said already the school has collected over 200 pairs, and the hope is to collect more in the last few weeks of the competition.
"It's been difficult with the long weekend, mid-year exams this past week, so kids were only in the building half a day. There were some minor obstacles of publicity and keeping kids aware…but overall it's been going well. We’re pusing it hard the last couple of days," he said.
In Hingham, spirits are also high. A week into the compeition, a massive wooden crate, constructed to collect sneakers last time, is already one-third full.
The school is hoping to at least equal the number of shoes donated last year, more than one shoe for each of Hingham High's 1,120 students. Silver Lake, which serves the towns of Plympton, Halifax, Pembroke and Kingston, has roughly the same number of students.
“We’re excited about doing it. It should be fun,” Swanson said. “It’s appealing to people’s competitive drive and it’s a good way to get people motivated about something like this.”