By Analiz González Schremmer
It’s typically seen as something negative to be a “copy-cat.” Yet the Missouri Rotary Clubs have proved that good works inspire positive imitation, too.
“Rotary Clubs in north Missouri started conducting drives for us in 2001,” said Rachel Garton, director for Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls. “Since then, a number of other Rotary Clubs in other states and in Canada have followed suit. We have also been invited to a few Rotary conventions this year.”
[caption id="attachment_1021" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Volunteers work to unpack the shoe donations. Shoes were collected by a Missouri Rotary Club shoe drive that brought in more than 10,000 pairs and $6,900."][/caption]
Garton said she was not surprised to see the Missouri Rotarians come through for Buckner in their donations. “It is now the single largest contributing organization to Shoes for Orphan Souls. This year, they donated more than 12,300 pairs of shoes and more than $6,900.
“The Missouri Rotarians shares a common passion with Buckner: that the children around the world should not to be forgotten,” she said.
Larry Lunsford, the Rotary’s Shoes for Orphan Souls committee chair, said that Missouri Rotarians have been glad to help orphan children around the world through their commitment to Shoes for Orphan Souls.
“Our Rotary theme for this year is ‘Make Dreams Real,’ and the idea of a simple gift like a new pair of shoes truly does make that dream real for these children,” Lunsford said. “I continue to be energized by how much the Shoes program resonates with our Rotarians and Rotary Clubs in north Missouri.”
Matt Asato, Buckner humanitarian aid manager, said Missouri Rotarians have collected 170,000 pairs of shoes and more than $62,000 since 2001.
“They have partnered with UPS, who donates their equipment and employees’ time to move the shipment from Missouri to the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid in Dallas.
[caption id="attachment_1022" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Volunteers worked in the shoe warehouse on April 29 and managed to unload the entire truck that day."][/caption]
“Each year they consistently give thousands of pairs of shoes to Shoes for Orphan Souls,” he added. “They also serve as a model to other organizations in a sense that other civic groups are able to come together as a whole to serve for the common good.”
Asato shared the story of Rock Port, Missouri Rotarian and Pastor Rodney Hopper, who has conducted Shoeless Sunday services where he preached barefoot to bring awareness to orphans around the world. His wife crocheted napkins to sell as a fundraiser item for Shoes for Orphan Souls and raised $100.
UPS partnered with Rotary District 6040 to provide transportation for the collection from St. Joseph, Missouri to the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid in Dallas, Texas.
“UPS encourages its employees to volunteer and give back to the community in which we live,” said Brad Williams, UPS Employee Relations Manager. “Since we are a global company, I felt this was a project we could use to not only help our community, but also the children of many nations.”
Rachel Garton, director of Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls, said that Buckner is “extremely grateful” for the shoe donation this year, as well as for all of the donations they have received from Rotary District 6040 in the past.
“Rotary’s consistency year after year has allowed us to send more shoes to children around the world, and ultimately, opened the door for us to share love and care with more children who otherwise wouldn’t receive it,” she said.
“No other organization has had the willpower and vision to involve so many people to make a difference as Rotary has.”
Since 1999, Shoes for Orphan Souls has delivered more than 1.9 million pairs of shoes and socks to orphan children in more than 55 countries. Shoes for Orphan Souls is a ministry of Buckner International, a Dallas-based global ministry dedicated to the restoration and healing of orphans and at-risk children, families and senior adults.
Organizations throughout the country have joined in with Rotary to support orphans around the world. If you’d like to learn more about your organization’s opportunities to host a shoe drive, please call 1-866-774-SHOE or visit www.ShoesforOrphanSouls.org today.
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