[caption id="attachment_2823" align="aligncenter" width="485" caption="Children in Sierra Leone, one of the world's most impoverished countries, display their new shoes from Shoes for Orphan Souls."][/caption]
DALLAS — When back-to-school shopping reaches its peak, Shoes for Orphan Souls®, the largest humanitarian aid project of Buckner International, hits its stride. But after 10 years of collecting shoes for orphans around the world, the global non-profit organization needs help more than ever.
“We sent more than 50,000 pairs of new shoes to Haiti following the earthquake earlier this year, and now we’re in dire need of shoes to send to children in other countries where we’ve already promised to deliver,” said Rachel Garton, director of Shoes for Orphan Souls.
[caption id="attachment_2824" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="A child in Guatemala shows off his new shoes after a volunteer team delivered them in 2008. Each year, Buckner collects about 250,000 pairs of new shoes for orphans."][/caption]
The back-to-school season has always been a “kick-off” time for the year’s project, but the organization collects new shoes and socks year round.
In 2009, Shoes for Orphan Souls reached a milestone with the donation of its 2 millionth pair of new shoes for orphans since 1999. Nearly 1,000 individuals, churches and Christian radio stations hosted shoe drives last year and more than 6,000 volunteers helped to sort and process shoes at the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid in Dallas.
“We rely on volunteers for every pair of shoes we receive,” Garton said. “It’s such a simple, practical thing to do. And new shoes can mean the difference between life and death for many children in developing countries.”
Without shoes, children are susceptible to a number of diseases and parasites, she said. New shoes not only protect their feet, but in many situations help a child know they are loved.
“Most orphanages are under staffed and underfunded, and the children have nothing to call their own,” she said. “When our volunteers deliver new shoes to these children, it helps them realize that someone cares about them and they’re not alone.”
Individuals and organizations interested in hosting a shoe drive receive posters, DVDs, brochures, packing guides and more to help them with their drive. Or they can purchase a pair of shoes online at www.ShoesforOrphanSouls.org.
About Shoes for Orphan Souls:
Shoes for Orphan Souls®, the largest humanitarian aid project of Buckner International, provides new shoes and socks to orphans and vulnerable children in the United States and around the world. From conducting shoe drives to humanitarian aid trips, Shoes for Orphan Souls provides hands-on opportunities to individuals, groups and organizations wanting to transform lives. Since 1999, more than 2 million pairs of new shoes and socks have been distributed to children in 69 countries.