One Day Without Shoes
BVMS students give shoes off their feet to less fortunate
April 10. 2013 9:43AM
Kids in Third World countries may soon by wearing Nike and Adidas tennis shoes once worn by Brandon Valley Middle School students.
The passing on of shoewear was the brainchild of eighth grader Alison Woodward, who organized the One Day Without Shoes event Friday in Brandon.
Woodward stumbled onto the good endeavor event while doing a project about TOMS Shoes in Brady Olson’s class last spring.
“It was close to the end of the school year, and I wasn’t excited about doing another project,” Woodward confesses. But once in research mode, Woodward found more purpose to her project than the written essay she was required to turn in.
“I found One Day Without Shoes and it hit my heart,” she said. “I knew I wanted to help.”
Since its founding in 2006, TOMS has donated a pair of shoes to needy people in 50 countries for every pair it sells. So far that’s more than 2 million pairs of shoes given away, according to the company. TOMS also promotes an April awareness day – One Day Without Shoes – asking people to go a day without shoes to get some idea of how people unable to afford shoes are forced to live.
The class project also led Woodward to Sole4Souls, a Tennessee nonprofit corporation founded in 2006 to facilitate the donation of new and used shoes to impoverished children around the world. Woodward sought to bring the shoeless day to her school and to combine it with a shoe donation.
On Friday, her middle school peers responded with an overwhelming 350-plus pairs of donated shoes.
“I never thought this many shoes would be donated; it’s way more than I expected,” Woodward said. “I thought 10 to 20 people would bring in shoes.”
Woodward was tasked with organizing the event, starting with school administration that included BVMS Principal Dan Pansch, the BVMS student council and Superintendent Dave Pappone. She also had to have the blessing from the school nutrition department and school officials had to provide a waiver to the “no shoes no service” principle, which they did with the understanding that everyone would be wearing socks.
“We are certainly always pleased when we have kids who notice needs and are willing to do something about it,” Pansch said. “But from a school standpoint, we are not a fundraising organization.”
Anything along those lines has to be tied into a formal aspect of the school, like a class, he said.
Woodward also contacted The Runner’s Block in Sioux Falls, the local drop-off point for Sole4Souls, to ensure the store could handle the overwhelming BVMS donation.
“Soles4Souls is our commitment,” Runner’s Block manager Joel Wornson says. “We pay the shipping to send the shoes off. When there’s a large volume, we box them up and still get them sent off.”
Friday’s response by the students and staff came as no surprise to Olson.
“Kids are compassionate, they want to make a difference,” he said. “And what I see of the kids here at Brandon Valley is that they love helping out, doing their part, and it’s awesome to see how excited they are to make a difference in people’s lives.”