Soles 4 Souls

Clyde A. Erwin Middle School's Junior Beta Club and Johnston Elementary School recently paired up for a shoe drive to help fight poverty.

Both school communities donated gently used shoes for the nonprofit Soles4Souls. The shoes will go to Haiti, Honduras, and other countries to create opportunities for locals to launch and sustain used shoe businesses.

“We thought about the people and the joy they will get from getting these shoes,” said Erwin seventh grader Lauren Payne. “It makes me so happy that we are working so hard to make other people get what they need and making them feel joyful.”

The project had its genesis in March when the entire JES student body read “Salt in His Shoes” – a children’s book about Michael Jordan, written by his mother. The story uses Jordan’s life to demonstrate the value of perseverance, patience, and practice. The Erwin Middle Junior Beta Club visited JES during this time and read to the students, looking to build an enduring partnership between the schools.

"The middle school Beta Club members who were part of the shoe drive committee that sorted and packed the shoes really seemed to get a better understanding of a global issue of poverty that many of them had not previously considered," said Ms. Amy Vaughn, Beta Club sponsor and AIG coordinator at both schools. "It took them out of their day-to-day bubble and gave them a glimpse of a world broader than what they are typically exposed to. I think this is so important as they grow and mature to prepare them to live and work in diverse social settings."

In the JES STEM Lab, third and fourth grade students completed a STEM challenge to create shoes that would reach “new heights,” an idea inspired by “Salt in His Shoes.” The students found different ways to make shoes taller, and the school displayed their creations in the media center. Afterwards, the students dismantled their projects and added the shoes to the donation bins. Both schools saw those bins overflow with shoes.

“The bin was huge and so was our community response,” said JES STEM Lab Coordinator Wendy Rice. “It warmed my heart to see our families and community reaching out to help others.”

“I couldn’t believe the support that poured in each day – from one pair, to a bag full – until our bin was not only just full, but running over into boxes sitting on the floor,” added JES Principal Anna Austin. “Our school community has united together to make a global difference for people in need around the world.”

Check out more photos HERE.

Featured photo credit: Ms. Amy Vaughn (Johnston Elementary)