Local woman organizes others to clean closets for clean water

LISA JOHNSTON | lisajohnston@archstl.org

During a mission trip to Haiti in 2010, after a massive earthquake hit there, Julie Scaglione saw something that touched her heart as a mother. She witnessed women trying to find clean water for their children to drink.

"I know how hard it is to be a mom with regular problems, let alone actually trying to find a drink for your child," she said. "And knowing the water you're giving your child is making them sick."

In 2012, Scaglione, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Manchester, founded Gateway2Give, a low-profit social enterprise that assists local groups to raise funds for their own projects by hosting shoe and handbag drives. The items are collected and sold to exporters, which in turn are sent to developing countries, where jobs are created and the items are resold.

Scaglione takes the items that are collected by a group and sells them to an exporter. Proceeds are split, with a third going to the group's local fundraising effort, a third to a clean water project in a developing country and a third toward Gateway2Give's operational and water education costs. Currently she receives about 60 cents per pound of shoes.

Scaglione also established Clean Water Mission, a nonprofit organization that serves as the charity partner of Gateway2Give. The organization helps to raise awareness of the global water crisis and offers volunteer opportunities for service projects, shoe and handbag collection drives and opportunities to donate to clean water projects.

According to the World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund Joint Monitoring Programme on Water Supply and Sanitation, more than one in six people worldwide -- about 894 million people -- don't have access to improved water sources. In addition, about 2.5 billion people, including almost one billion children, do not have access to basic sanitation, according to the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council. A child dies every 20 seconds because of poor sanitation, the organization also noted.

Scaglione has been involved with clean water efforts since 2007. She said she would often get calls from friends asking about ways to help increase donations or questions about fundraising. "I have three kids who are always driving me crazy with their fundraisers, so I thought, there has got to be a way for local groups to make money and also have a global impact.

"Like most people I use a sprinkler on my lawn. I drink bottled water," she said. "But I really didn't know much about (clean water efforts) until I was influenced by people who work in this area. And then I traveled to Haiti, where I actually saw it. That's where it went to another level for me."

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