More than 300 million children worldwide are without shoes. I don’t mean they have no Sunday shoes or no good school shoes — I mean they absolutely have no shoes.
When I was growing up, we made trips to go and buy new shoes for Easter or when school was about to start. I had this naïve idea the first couple decades of my life that we were poor.
That was before I grew up and met people who had no shoes, no indoor plumbing and who lived on dirt floors — and this was in the United States.
There are many levels of poor; we were not even close to really, really poor.
You might wonder why shoes would be such a big deal when you think about things like no access to drinkable water, having a roof over your head or being able to count on having food to eat.
Walking barefoot over often rough terrain puts the bodies of these 300 million children — as well as millions of adults — at major risk of contracting life-threatening illnesses from parasites like hookworm and threadworm.
Without shoes, many of the world’s children won’t be allowed to walk through the doors of a school, and therefore may never escape the cycle of poverty.
These children have walked without shoes all of their lives — until now.
You have the opportunity in April to help many of these millions of children and adults by cleaning out your shoe closet and donating shoes you never wear or have lightly worn.
The international shoe charity Soles 4 Souls estimates that there are more than 1.5 million pairs of shoes lying idle in Americans’ closets.
Evidently, some people have much larger shoe closets than I do.
Liberty County will participate in a shoe collection campaign.
Soles4Souls is having the Turn UP the Sole campaign in Georgia in partnership with the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation, The Georgia Recycling Coalition, 1-800-Got-Junk?, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and Whole Foods.
This Earth Day initiative will give thousands of Georgians the chance to recycle new or gently worn shoes.
Soles4Souls will clean the donated shoes and ship them to needy people. The recipients will treasure your gifts for years to come.
Since its inception following the Asian tsunami, Soles4Souls has distributed more than 17 million pairs to people in 127 countries.
Your shoes truly will become international travelers!
Here are the many drop-off sites that you can access for your shoe donations:
• Hinesville city hall
• Hinesville Fire Department
• Hinesville Police Department
• Liberty County Annex Building lobby
• Flemington city hall
• Midway city hall
• Walthourville city hall
• Liberty County Health Department lobby
• Liberty County Chamber of Commerce
• Liberty County Board of Education
We also will have a special collection at our sixth annual Earth Day celebration from 3-7 p.m. Monday, April 23, at the YMCA soccer field at the corner of Mary Lou Drive and Tupelo Trail.
Upcoming Keep Liberty Beautiful events
Make a difference this spring by participating in the upcoming events:
• Community cleanups: Flemington and Riceboro cleanups are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 14. Flemington volunteers should meet at Flemington City Hall.
Riceboro volunteers should meet in the Head Start parking lot. Hinesville and Walthourville cleanups are Saturday, April 28. Hinesville volunteers should meet at 8 a.m. in Main Street Park. Walthourville volunteers should meet at 8:30 a.m. at Walthourville City Hall.
To volunteer for this year’s Great American Cleanup events, call Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All cleanup supplies, a picnic lunch for cleanup volunteers and free T-shirts will be provided.