Nancy McAllister believes in the power of a pair of shoes.
The Middle School Arts Department Chair is bridging the education gap by collecting shoes you no longer want to create opportunities that many need. McAllister has partnered with non-profit organization Soles4Souls to collect shoes for students across the globe who can’t attend school because their lack of shoes leaves them vulnerable to disease and death.
“We don't care if you have one shoe, new shoes, wrecked shoes, or cleats. They will repurpose the shoes for someone in need. If they have rubber soles, they can take them and reuse the rubber. They can build facilities out of garbage as well. The process provides many sustainable jobs,” McAllister said.
McAllister points out that walking is the primary mode of transportation in many developing nations. Without shoes, children and adults are exposed to unsanitary conditions that may lead to disease and death.
“Young people are being kept home from school because of the fear of disease and death. By collecting shoes for Soles4Souls we are helping break the cycle of poverty and the education gap,” said McAllister.
Since Soles4Souls began in 2006, the organization has distributed over 35 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries. McAllister, who encourages the entire Benjamin community to become involved, collected over 2,000 pairs of shoes last year.
In her fifth year partnering with the organization, McAllister added socks and backpacks to her drive.
“I tell my students to look beyond the Benjamin community and enlist their neighborhoods, reach out to their communities beyond Benjamin and expand our reach,” McAllister said.
Fred German, Coordinator of Transportation and Athletic Operations, delivered 900 pairs of shoes to Miami. Upper School parent Brian Murphy was also an integral part in the operation, said McAllister. Murphy also assisted in driving shoes down South.
Those interested in participating in the drive can drop their old shoes off at any of the divisional offices or in Mrs. McAllister’s room.
McAllister said it’s one thing to read the school character traits every Monday morning in assembly, and another to actually live them out.
“What I love about this project is that it’s giving those abstract traits legs and feet. Our students are learning empathy as they embrace the reality that other people do not have what they have and literally can not go to school because they don’t want to risk their health. It’s an eye-opening experience that is so important for our students.”