RUSHVILLE, Ind. -- Maureen Leisure, who started "Changing Footprints" in her hometown of Rushville in 2005, is this month's Jefferson Award winner.
The organization collects donations of gently used or new footwear to help those in need.
Leisure says her inspiration came after learning of children and families facing unnecessary amputations around the world.
"The majority of foot wounds, foot infections and eventually amputations for a lot of them because they were barefoot in the mountains, in the cold, and it really moved me. I couldn't get it off my mind," said Leisure.
For more than a decade, Leisure and a dedicated group of people have been collecting, sorting and distributing shoes of every fashion, color and size. Each pair comes with its own story.
"One year there was a woman carrying two bags of really nice shoes. She said she read about us in the newspaper. Her daughter was killed by a drunk driver and she had not been able to go into daughter's room. She decided it was time and bagged up all of her daughter's shoes and brought them to us and said this is where she would want them to be. Quite honestly, she cried when she handed them to me and I did too," said Leisure.
"Changing Footprints" has partnered with 50 social service agencies throughout central Indiana as well as relief organizations responding to natural disasters across the country, and church and humanitarian groups working in about 20 countries.