April 29, 2010

Rotarians Helping to Provide Shoes for Orphaned Souls

Has Imelda Marcos has not joined the Scotland County Rotary Club? Nearly 1,000 pairs of shoes were displayed at the April 20th meeting of the local community service organization at the Rotary building. But they were not part of the collection owned by the infamous former first lady of the Philippines, whose penchant for purchasing foot ware was uncovered after her husband was deposed and they fled the country leaving behind more than 3,000 pairs of shoes in her closets.

The Rotary Club has collected nearly 1,000 pairs of new shoes to be donated to the Shoes for Orphan Souls. The charity program is a ministry of Buckner International and has distributed more than 1.8 million pairs of new shoes to at-risk children in the United States and to orphans in 68 countries around the world.

Local Rotarians solicited donations from a variety of area resources while also contributing financially to the shoe collection drive. Members branched out to their work places and other social networks to fuel the highly successful final tally.

“At the request of CEO Marcia Dial, a Rotarian, Scotland County Hospital employees collected shoes and socks for the Shoes for Orphan Soles campaign,” said Rotarian Alisa Kigar offering an example of the variety of support the project received.

The project received a boost from Aloha Coffrin. The owner of Coffrin Shoe Store donated a portion of the shoes for the drive to support the charity.

Initial plans were to transport the shoes to Lancaster to combine with the Schuyler County Rotary Club’s efforts, but due to the significant number of shoes raised locally, other transportation plans will have to be made, likely bringing a larger transport directly to Memphis.

“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.”

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 share a common passion with Buckner: that the children around the world should not to be forgotten,” she said.

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.

Shoes for Orphan Souls began as Shoes for Russian Souls in 1995 by KCBI radio in Dallas, Texas. Buckner International assumed leadership of the program in 1999 and changed the name to reflect the world-wide reach.

According to The State of the World’s Children as reported by Unicef, there are 148 million orphans around the world. Orphanages do not receive enough funding to support the children in their care. One of the greatest and most immediate needs is a pair of shoes. Many of the children receive one pair of shoes to last the entire year, and some don’t have shoes at all.

Shoes for Orphan Souls continues to grow and expand its scope, receiving shoes from all 50 states. They are then distributed to children in the United States as well as in Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chechnya, Chile, China, Croatia, Columbia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Egypt, El Salvador, Germany, Ghana, Granada, Guyana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India,Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Georgia, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea, Sudan, Tajikistan, United States of America, Uganda, Ukraine, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“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,” Garton 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.

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