McNair High School students give back to South America and the Caribbean

students stand in room with donated shoesFor four years, McNair High School students have been collecting new and gently worn shoes for those in need outside of the United States.

Members of the school’s Travel Club, National Beta Club and Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy are conducting a shoe drive to distribute the shoes to Bolivia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras. The shoe drive was started after students of the Travel Club witnessed the hardships of residents in Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Travel club adviser Maronda Hastie said during the Guatemala trip, she heard one of her students say, for the first time, that they were spoiled.

“From that, it spawned into small projects here each month, doing different things,” Hastie said. “Then they said, ‘I wonder can we help?’

While the students were participating in a community service project in Guatemala, Hastie said they noticed a collection of shoes and discovered that the Guatemalan community received shoe donations from across the world to help start micro-businesses.

“They use the shoes to earn money for their families because they are a part of smaller businesses, in then they in turn sell them so that they could either trade [the shoes] to start [businesses],” she said.

McNair students set a goal to collect 3,000 shoes. So far, they have collected more than 900 shoes. The club has also partnered with several local businesses to help collect shoes.

“The kids decorated boxes and we would put a box in [various businesses],” Hastie said. “The [business owners] would call me and say the box is full and I will go and pick up the shoes. We have feeder schools, such as Kelley Lake Elementary School, that has been doing a big part of collecting shoes for us as well.”

Ninth grader Evelyn Hendrix is a member of the Travel Club and Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy. She said she got involved with the shoe drive because she knows there are people who need shoes and other items.

decorated shoe donation box“It’s important for kids our age to give back to those in need because some people don’t have as much as we have,” Hendrix said. “So, we’re blessed with the things that we have today. If you give back to others, maybe they’ll want to give back some times.”

McNair principal Loukisha Walker, Ed.D, said the shoe drive is a great way to teach students about community service.

“It makes me extremely proud as a principal to know that they are getting that opportunity,” Dr. Walker said.

Hasite said the shoe drive is also gives her an opportunity to stress to students why education is important.

“Because when [students] are just given everything, they think buses are free, food is free, and education is free. That’s what they think until they go somewhere else and they see that it’s not free, everything is just not given,” she said. “To hear them take [on] more responsibility makes a big difference.”

Contributed by Carla Parker