In the fall of 2010, professors Mitch Alegre, Anna McNab, Ph.D., and James Kling, Ph.D., dumped a bag of sandals on the floor during their team-taught business course (BUS 120). BUS 120 may seem like a normal introductory class, but students who take it know that it is much more than just another freshman seminar; it is an innovative course that introduces freshman business students to the global world of business through hands-on, real-world experience.
When the professors presented the sandals, they asked their students to think of creative things to use them for. At that time, about 300,000 sandals were being thrown away per year…thrown away!
The sandals, which are gently worn by tourists who visit the Cave of the Winds attraction in Niagara Falls, N.Y., are stylish, sturdy and comfortable. When tourists are done using them, they have the option to keep the sandals as a souvenir or throw them away. They cannot be recycled, because they are made from materials that have already been reused many times.
Not wanting to see a perfectly good shoe go to waste, the BUS 120 students came up with the idea of storing, sorting, cleaning and repackaging these sandals to distribute to local and international operations where people are in need of reliable footwear. When the BUS 120 course came to a close, a handful of the students decided they didn't want the idea to fade just because the class ended, so they started a club called Business Organizational Leadership Development (B.O.L.D.), with the intention of using the sandals project, now called Sandal Falls, as their main community service initiative.
Sandal Falls is still a large part of the BUS 120 course; it allows students to take what they have learned in class and apply these methods to their own service-learning projects, giving them firsthand knowledge of consulting, marketing, finance and operations skills. In addition, students give back through these projects by helping organizations in the local community as well as assisting others around the world.
The project is now completely student-led, with the help of faculty advisors: Professor Alegre and Dr. David Taylor, director of the Levesque Institute for Civic Engagement.
Over the years, the project has had several names, including “The Sustainable Sandals Project” and “Project Angel Shoes,” until B.O.L.D. members joked that it should just be called “Sandal Falls,” and the name stuck.
Meet our BOLD Club Members
President - Megan Rogers
Vice President - Cristina Ruiz
Treasurer - John Samuelson
Secretary - Baillie LaTour