I had the unique opportunity on July 21 to attend a distribution in Woodstock, Georgia coordinated by one of our partners, Give-A-Kid-A-Chance. This organization provides back to school items for children in Cherokee County every year before school, and their President, Cheryl Ruffer, asked us to come and be a part of this day with them: http://www.giveakidachance.org/
It is one thing to coordinate and carry out a distribution for Soles4Souls, and it is an entirely different animal to attend a distribution by one of our partners, and actually see and experience how they use our shoes and clothing to meet the needs of those within their networks. It is very humbling and exciting, and I learn something new each time as well! This event had items and services available from over 70 non-profits, and they had two locations, one of which was equipped to serve over 1,600 children. Soles4Souls provided shoes and clothing, but in addition to this, there was a medical and dental clinic, and a backpack station, where a kid could receive a backpack full of school supplies. There was also a salon, where they could get a new haircut for school. They came straight from receiving their new ‘do to the shoe room, so we saw a lot of Mohawks, buzz-cuts, and freshly cut bangs on little girls.
Our Clothes4Souls intern, Emily Briceland, came with me and worked in the clothing room, which was a gym size room full of clothing stations, organized according to size. The Durham family also joined us from Marietta, GA. Their 14 year old daughter Reagan just delivered over 2000 pair of shoes to us that she collected in her community, and I invited her to come and experience what she helped us accomplish through her shoe drive. It was special for to see everything come full-circle, and her Mom, Marsha and sister, Lou, were in the shoe room delivering smiles and shoes to the children and parents. For more on Reagan’s Shoe Drive, read here: http://cherokeetribune.com/bookmark/19234198-Marietta-teen-on-mission-to-save-some-soles
The shoes were the hot commodity of the day, of course, and we distributed well over 250 pair of them to children that desperately needed them. Our intern Emily remarked to me, more than once, that she had no idea the need in the United States was as bad as it is. I saw many children whose shoes were in terrible shape, and the parents were so elated to be able to get a pair. Sadly, we didn’t have enough for all of the children, and I spent time discussing this with the organization’s President, Cheryl. She was discouraged by that, but I also reminded her that being able to provide for a fraction of the children was definitely better than being able to do nothing.
I will take a moment to make a plea to our wonderful donors in the footwear industry to please continue to donate shoes to us. We need shoes to distribute all over the world, but we really need shoes to distribute in the US, especially children’s shoes. We have worked hard in our Outreach Department to secure reputable Distribution Partners and to be able to see things like I did Saturday only fuels my passion for the mission of Soles4Souls, but we desperately need the help of our Donors to continue this. I want to be able to secure 2000 pairs of children’s shoes for Cheryl’s distribution next year, because this organization is doing great things in Georgia.
I will end on a high note for you. Five year old Christopher came up to me after he received his shoes, and they were the wrong size. So, I slipped inside and found a few options for him. We found a pair that fit him perfectly, and he looked down at me and just beamed, smiling the most gorgeous smile with his new haircut. He said “I love them! They feel good, they feel really good!”
That’s all, folks. That’s all.