Last updated: February 17. 2013 8:38AM - 68 Views

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LEHMAN TWP. – An old pair of women's Nike sneakers, the white leather faded from years of use, sat on top of other used sneakers in a cardboard box at the Penn State Wilkes-Barre gymnasium Monday. • Thanks to Nike, they'll soon be repurposed to serve others for years to come. • Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program collects worn-out athletic shoes for recycling, transforming them into a material called "Nike Grind," which is used to create athletic and playground surfaces as well as select Nike products.

The more than 140 collected Monday at Penn State's campus in Lehman Township will be added to the 1.5 million pairs Nike recycles annually.

Alex Leandri, a Penn State cross-country team member and president of the campus' Mountain Lion Varsity Club, said the program seemed like something the club and the campus should participate in.

"Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program is such a wonderful cause," said Leandri, a sophomore industrial engineering major from Mechanicsburg. "It embodies exactly what the Mountain Lion Varsity Club's is all about -- helping the local community, by means of sports."

The club, which had been active for years but then ceased operations a few years ago due to lack of interest, was restarted in the spring and holds fundraising events to generate money that can be allocated to athletic programs on campus for items such as warm-up jerseys, new nets for tennis courts, equipment and more.

The club also seeks to raise awareness and generate interest in having students and others attend athletic events.

To raise money on Monday, the club, with the help of Jackie Warnick-Piatt, the school's student activities coordinator, brought in a traveling shoe sales company to set up shop in the gymnasium and offer sneakers, sandals and other shoes and a discounted rate.

Ten percent of sales will be given to the Mountain Lion Varsity Club. Fifty pairs of sneakers were sold and the club earned a few hundred dollars.

Four years ago the Wilkes-Barre campus also organized a Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program drop and collected 200 shoes. Though Monday was the advertised day on campus for the event, Warnick-Piatt said the three shoe drop boxes will remain on campus all week and next so the total number of shoes collected won't be known until next Friday.

Leandri wasn't sure what to expect but said after one day she was impressed with how many students turned out but also with how many community members showed up. She said one woman came with a bag of shoes to drop off.

"It was great," Leandri said.

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