15-year-old aims to gather 25,000 pairs of shoes; how to donate - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

15-year-old aims to gather 25,000 pairs of shoes; how to donate

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No goal is too big for 15-year-old Sarah Smith.  The freshman at Sumner-Fredericksburg High School has chosen to do a shoe drive for Soles4Souls, with the goal of collecting 25,000 pairs.  Soles4Souls collects shoes and distributes them to needy families in the U.S., along with 127 countries worldwide.

Smith started out with a goal of 10,000 pairs of shoes, but that goal quickly changed when she found out that, if she can collect 25,000 pairs, she and a parent can go to one of the ten distribution sites. 

"I am leaning towards Costa Rica or Honduras for my distribution trip," said Smith.  "My brother is a missionary and has been to both places."

Smith heard about Soles4Souls when a family friend participated in a shoe drive for the organization a few years ago, and told her about them.  She was instantly interested in becoming involved, realizing the importance of people all over the globe having access to footwear.

Smith estimates she currently has collected over 12,000 pairs, all of which are being stored in her family's garage.  And when asked why this is so important to her:

"Because I know that we can, and should, be always looking to make a difference in the lives of others.  I'm only 15, but I want everyone to know, especially adults that look down on my generation, that some teens are very passionate about the concerns of our world and the needs of others."

Anyone can donate their shoes.  From men's and women's, to children's and athletic shoes, the shoe simply has to have a sole. The shoes don't even have to be in very good shape, according to Smith, as Soles4Souls teaches people how to fix or refurbish shoes to sell for profit in their country.

Eight drop-off locations are located in Smith's hometown of Sumner, but she has also set up a Facebook page to get the word out all over the state of Iowa. Some teachers at Kittrell Elementary School in Waterloo are joining in on the effort and leading a shoe drive at the school, and May 6 will be a big community-wide drop-off day at the Hope City Church (118 High St., Waterloo) from 12:30 until 6 p.m.

Learn more about donating your shoes by visiting the Sarah Smith is collecting 10,000 pairs of shoes page.  And learn more about Soles4Souls here.

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