Students collect hundreds of pairs of shoes to send to Haiti

SAN MARCOS — After the earthquake hit Haiti, San Elijo Elementary School students took action to help. Students teamed up with Sport Chalet and
the Soles4Souls nonprofit organization to collect shoes for earthquake victims in Haiti.
“When the earthquake hit several folks wanted to know if we could do something as a school,” Lynda McDonell, school principal, said. The shoe drive became a schoolwide community service project. Efforts started Jan. 19 and in 10 days student council members got the word out to peers, teachers and parents and shoe donations poured in.
Jack Tuttle, a fifth-grader and student body president, said the faces of students really changed when they heard there was something they could do to help the people of Haiti.
“I saw a lot of smiles,” Jack said. “They were happy to get to help.”
Students donated more than 600 pairs of gently used shoes.
To personalize the donations students wrote heartfelt notes.
Among the messages were cards that read, “Kids in California love you,” “I hope you’re smiling today,” and “Hugs and kisses from San Elijo Elementary School.”
Students’ messages were translated into French with the help of parent volunteers and tucked inside each pair of shoes.
Donation efforts were also included as part of family game night held at the school Jan. 20.
“At family game night there were tables with markers and cards to write notes,” McDonell said. The effort touched a lot of hearts, McDonell said.
The mountain of donated shoes collected at the school was packed into pickup trucks and minivans Jan. 29 and hauled by parent volunteers to the Soles4Souls drop off.
The focused effort to collect shoes for the people of Haiti brought in 1,000 pairs of shoes a day to the Sport Chalet in San Marcos. Donations were dropped off by individuals, Boy Scout troops, church groups and schools. “Schools called to ask if we’ll take the shoes they’re donating, obviously we’re telling them yes,” Scott Hensiek, Sport Chalet store manager, said. Soles4Souls works with Sport Chalet and other businesses to collect gently used shoes for those in need all year round.

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