Monday, September 29, 2008

High School Sole Project

"One pair at a time" is how a group of seniors at Davis High in Farmington, Utah are planning to collect 5,000 pairs of new or gently used shoes for Soles4Souls.

And with close to 1,300 pairs so far, Camille Robb and several of her friends, including Kim and Katie Beus are also hoping to reach their goal in the next few weeks. Robb said she was inspired to head up the project after viewing an episode of Rachael Ray in which Soles4Souls was discussed.

"I was watching the show, and she was talking about shoe fetishes women have, and talked about an organization that gives shoes. I was really interested, so I called and wanted to do a service project," she said.

In a flier her group has passed out to the community asking for help with the project, she uses several statistics provided by the organization, which she calls "frightening." The one she said shocked her most is that more than 300 million children around the world have never had a pair of shoes.

"This is what got me going. It was hard to believe because I have over 70 pair. So I wanted to share that blessing," Robb said, adding that same amount of footwear was thrown into American landfills last year alone.

Robb said in her flier the primary need for the shoes is to protect against potentially serious health care issues that result from not wearing shoes, such as scrapes, cuts, burns, and contamination.

Recent donations, including many types of shoes such as snow boots, sandals, work boots and children's shoes, stood lined up waiting to be boxed in Robb's parents' garage. Boxes already filled and sealed lined one wall, with a number in the upper right hand corner indicating how many pairs are inside. Elastics were put around each pair to keep mates together.

Robb said all footwear types are needed, but the greatest need is children's shoes, youth shoes, and athletic shoes of all sizes. But she said even women's dress shoes are needed for women's shelters or dress-for-success programs for women who need dress shoes to complete professional outfits for interviews or starting new jobs.

She said most children's shoes go to foreign countries such as Africa or India, but she was contacted by Soles4Souls recently and informed her shoes will be going to the Gulf Coast to help fill an immediate need for those residents whose homes were recently ravaged by Hurricane Ike.

"There are so many people hurting from the hurricane, so that is where these are going," Robb said.

Collection boxes will be available at local high schools, including: Woods Cross, Bountiful, Viewmont, Davis, Layton and Syracuse until Oct. 3, and most elementary schools in the Davis area.

"We wanted to get the elementary school kids involved, because younger kids are always so eager to help," Robb said.

Robb and the Beuses have also used their front porches as drop-off points, and Robb said one morning she woke up to three sacks of brand-new shoes on her front porch. Another neighbor recently gave her $350 to go buy as many shoes as they could.

Katie Beus said they have also had mornings where their front porch was filled.

"It was exciting. I get excited to see the shoes," she said.

Kim Beus said she has been amazed at all the support.

"Word spreads," she said.

A local trucking company has agreed to donate transportation for the shoes to a drop point for the organization in Las Vegas once all of the shoes have been collected, and a local packaging company donated the boxes.

In the end, though, Robb said the final number collected doesn't matter.

"It's the giving that counts. But when we hit 1,000 we could tell there was definite progress from the 10 pair we started with. I'll be excited with whatever we get, but I hope to reach my goal," she said.

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