Alabama Girl Trades Gifts for Shoes

By Lauren Hollon Sturdy
Buckner International


Haven Godwin is a dancer, a gymnast, a swimmer and a cyclist. She’s also a budding philanthropist who decided to forego gifts for her 7th birthday this year to collect shoes for orphans and vulnerable children.

She’s a determined girl who knows what she wants. When she saw a TV segment about a girl who collected 300 shoes for orphans for her birthday, she knew she had to do the same thing. She learned about the Shoes for Orphan Souls Birthday Club and sat down and wrote a letter about her birthday wish. With the help of her mother, Mary, Haven typed her letter, made copies and took it to school and church to pass out to all her friends:
Hello. My name is Haven Godwin. I am 6 years old. I want my birthday wish to come true. Please send a new pair of shoes so that I can collect them and send them to the orphanage. These kids only get one pair of shoes a year.

I watched a video and I heard that a kid had to find food out of the dumpster. So be thankful that we have everything that we need. These kids don't have moms and dads. The moms and dads couldn't take care of them for some reason so they left them at the orphanage.

That is my wish for my birthday instead of presents for myself, because I have everything that I want—my family and the toys I already have. I would like to collect at least 300 pairs of NEW shoes for the kids.

My 7th birthday is March 4 so that is the deadline to turn in shoes. Please ask your parents to send in a new pair of shoes by this date.

Love,
Haven Godwin

She wasn’t bashful about spreading her message. She announced her shoe drive to the whole school during a morning assembly, and the principal invited her to give updates on her progress over the intercom during morning announcements. The administration and teachers were supportive of the drive, and the other students looked forward to hearing how many shoes she had collected each day.

The drive was also announced at the February Parent-Teacher Organization meeting. When the Godwins pulled into their driveway later that evening, people were outside their house, waiting to give them shoes.

“When people heard about her goal, everybody wanted to contribute,” Mary said. “Even our pest control man – when he came to spray the house he saw the pile of shoes in the floor and asked about it and wanted to help.”

For her birthday party, Haven wanted an “orphanage cake.” She designed a yellow, blue, white and green three-tiered confection with barefoot children drawn in icing around the middle tier and a big shoe on the bottom. When the baker found out why Haven wanted such an unusual design, she took up a collection and had shoe-buying money waiting when Haven and her mother came to pick up the cake.

Haven’s birthday party was March 4, and by the end of her drive, she had collected between 300 and 320 pairs of shoes. Though she was happy to have met her goal, she’s looking forward to the next project.

“Now that we’ve done shoes, next year is toys, and then clothes, and then money to buy food,” she said. She said eventually she’d like to go on a mission trip to deliver shoes and visit the children in person.

To learn more about getting involved with Shoes for Orphan Souls, visit www.shoesfororphansouls.org.

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