By Jay Mejia
Shoes do more than cover the soles of feet. For orphans, a brand new pair of shoes and socks means that the world still cares about them.
"Think about it," said Dan Hall, Past Rotary District 6040 Governor, who again helped spearhead this year’s annual shoe drop conducted by the three Lee’s Summit Rotary Clubs. "Orphans are alone in the world and own nothing if anything, especially in the poorest of nations, living in the most terrible of conditions. A new pair of shoes is a sign that somebody is thinking about them and gives them hope for a better life.
"It’s a psychological boost that makes them feel special and it’s a medical boost that protects their feet and bodies, especially in places where diseases and parasites in tropical forests and mountains can cause sickness and death," said Hall. "The shoes are not the most important thing when delivered to each boy and girl. They crave and want human touch."
This year the local chapters collected 1,258 pairs of new shoes and 4,150 pairs of new socks for Buckner international’s 'Shoes for Orphan Souls®' during the recent Rotary District 6040 'Shoes Caravan' conducted on May 8-10 throughout North Missouri and the metropolitan Kansas City area.
In partnership with the other 56 Rotary Clubs in Missouri Rotary District 6040, a total of over 20,000 pairs of shoes, and over 6,000 pairs of socks and $3,575 for transportation costs were collected for vulnerable children and orphans around the world. This humanitarian aid was collected during the multi-stop Shoes Caravan, starting in Higginsville, MO on May 8 and ending in Macon, Missouri on May 10.
The collected shoes and socks, personalized to match the sizes of each child, will go to orphans in the Philippines hit hard by last year’s Super Typhoon Haiyan. In the past, shoes, socks and other items have been sent to orphans across Asia, Africa, South America and even in America.
Northern Missouri Rotary, including the three Lee’s Summit Rotary Clubs, remains the largest single contributing organization to the Buckner International 'Shoes for Orphan Souls' campaign to date, collecting a total of 253,000 pairs of shoes, 20,626 pairs of socks, and $107,000 in cash since the first shoe drive in 2001.
"The people of Lee’s Summit really opened their hearts to help children in need," said Hall. "As Rotarians, we want to provide service to our local community and to people in need around the world. Donating shoes is so simple, but it makes such a big impact in the lives of needy children. Other companies, non-profit organizations, schools, and churches are encouraged to join with Rotary in collecting 'Shoes for Orphan Souls' for the 2015 shoe drive."
United Parcel Service partnered with Rotary District 6040 to provide complementary transportation for the truck caravan. Burlington Northern Railway provided free transportation from Kansas City to the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid in Dallas, Texas.
Scott Collins, a representative of Buckner’s Shoes for Orphan Souls program, 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 over 14 years 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," he said. "No other organization has had the willpower and vision to involve so many people to make a difference as Rotary has."