Dozens of pairs of tennis shoes, loafers, boots and even house shoes are piling up. Yet members of the Brownie Troop 6894 in Vilonia said they are still short on what they need to fulfill their mission.

"We need hundreds of them. This way the kids don’t have to walk a forever distance, barefooted, to get water and carry it back to their homes," said Shelby Linn Osborne, a Brownie member. "The kids must be tired after walking that far. I would be so tired if I had to do that."

Monday night the youngster held the honor of the one in her Brownie Troop to collect the most shoes to date — 179 pairs — that will go to the Ozark Water Project. Shelby said she fears her troop has a long way to go and "a maybe even house-high pile" of shoes to collect if they want to lead in the drive since they are competing against all Faulkner County Girl Scouts.

However, the pint-sized solicitor whispered that she has a secret weapon. She’s enlisted the help of her church, Friendship Baptist in Vilonia. She also wants to tell "the rest of the world" that she is available to take shoe donations.

"I’ll pick them up," she said. Of course, she is relying on her mother, DeAnna Osborne, to provide the ride.

Osborne, a troop leader, her daughter is right on all counts. She and Barbara Gibby, the other troop leader, is helping the eight or so members of the Troop to gather the shoes.

"Countries that don’t have running water in their towns, they have to send women and children miles to get water and they have to carry the water back to their homes," Osborne explained. "Ozark Water Project sells the shoes by the pound and that money goes to putting in wells and purification systems in Africa, Uganda and Kenya. They take the shoes to these countries and sell them for pennies to the people who don’t have shoes."

Those wanting to donate may call Osborne at 501-733-3435. The deadline is 3 p.m., Saturday. However, she said shoes may be donated directly to the project any day of the year by going to