October has been an incredibly busy month thus far at the Draper house, so I have really struggled with trying to find time to do projects. Today we came up with a great little project that took a grand total of about fifteen minutes to complete. (Granted, it will involve a trip to the post office tomorrow, so add another 20 minutes to the total.) We gathered up all the shoes we could find that the kids had outgrown and boxed them up to send to Shoes for Kids.
A week or two ago, Rob went on a mission to help Abby clean out her disaster of a closet. I was not involved in the process, so I did not have any say-so in what stayed, what went, and what happened to the items that “went.” Later, I went to put something in the trash can and saw two pairs of perfectly good shoes sitting in there. I immediately pulled them out and pledged to find a better home for those shoes than the trash can.
I started by going back to the original list that inspired my service projects in the first place. Sure enough, that list had the perfect place for us to send the kids’ old shoes! Shoes for Kids was actually started by a child (pre-teen, I believe) who was inspired after taking a family trip to Kenya. Here is what she has to say on her website:
“Hi, I am Isabel and I am the founder of Shoes for Kids. In 2009, I took a trip to Kenya with my family, and it changed my life. I met kids who live in poverty. I visited homes so small that it made my room look like a mansion. When I came home, I just knew I had to do something, so I prayed. In March 2010, I started Shoes for Kids when I realized I had lots of shoes, and the kids I had met in Kenya didn’t have any shoes. Without shoes, people get skin diseases and parasites, and this can cause them to get sick and sometimes die. Sometimes other kids ask me why I do this? I just tell them I do this because I want to help others. I also want other kids like me to know they can make a difference too. It just takes a little time, some creativity and a little money. Some day I want every child in the world to have a pair of shoes. I hope you will help me Making Happy Feet.”
I love it! I absolutely love seeing a child so inspired to do good that she starts her own project – a project that has clearly already touched many lives. Unfortunately, many of our kids’ outgrown shoes have been donated or trashed, but we found all of the ones we could to send.
Abby struggled with whether or not to donate one particular pair of shoes – her “Twinkletoes.” These shoes are really special to Abby (and to me) because of how she acquired them. Rob and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University last spring. In the course, there is a lesson about teaching children to handle their money in a certain way. We followed the program and started paying Abby a dollar or two for extra chores around the house. She desperately wanted “tie shoes” (aka shoes that tie rather than velcro or slip on), and she worked diligently for ten weeks to earn money to buy them. When she had earned $15, I took her to Kohl’s to shop for shoes. (Silly me, I thought $15 would buy her a pair of tie shoes. WRONG!) Anyway, we went to Kohl’s and she picked out the Twinkletoes. She took them to the counter and set out her baggie full of money to buy them (accompanied by another $20 from mom – but hey, it worked in principle). She loved those shoes and was so proud of them because she worked hard for them.
When we got to work on this project today, I asked Abby if her tie shoes could go in the box to go to children who did not have any shoes. I showed her some pictures on the internet of children in bare feet, and we talked about how some kids have to walk to school in bare feet because they have no shoes. She gave it some thought and ultimately decided to donate the Twinkletoes.
We put the shoes in a box, and I told Abby I would tape it up and mail it the next day. Then, I left for the afternoon. When I came home, I found Abby sitting next to the box with paper, crayons and wrapping paper bows. She said a plain box was not enough. We needed a card, and the box needed bows. I tried to explain that we could not put a bow on the outside of the box to mail it, but she insisted. She also made a card and put a second bow inside the box. The card makes no sense whatsoever (it consists of a drawing she described as “caterpillars eating grass,” a bunch of letters formed into a nonsense word, and her name), but it’s in the box.
Tomorrow, before I take the box to the post office, I will remove the bow and add a note from myself that will be a little easier to understand. (Shhh… don’t tell Abby!)
After I explained to Abby that some people do not have shoes and have to go to school barefoot, she told Rob that we were sending shoes so that kids do not have to play in the wood chips without shoes. (The playground at preschool is covered in wood chips.) I told her that these children probably do not have playgrounds with wood chips. These kids come from families that do not have cars and they probably have to walk to school on dirt roads in their bare feet. Her response? “Mom, you know what would be a good project? We should give a car to someone who doesn’t have one!” Sadly, I do not think that project is in the budget right now!
The next time you clean out your kids’ shoes, why not stick them in a box and send them to Shoes for Kids? It seems so much more special to me to send the shoes to this organization than to sell them for 50 cents at a garage sale or donate them with a bunch of other junk to your typical donation site. I will definitely plan to do this again as my children grow!