Riverstown NS, Castlelyons NS and Villierstown NS are among the schools registered to take part in a national campaign to collect tens of thousands of gently worn shoes from all over Ireland and send them to underprivileged children in southern African townships.
Taking place from April 17 until April 28, the campaign is being run by In My Shoes, who in pre-Covid times, worked with schools and families across Ireland to collect 15,000 pairs of used sports shoes and send them to school children in South Africa and Lesotho.
‘Meet & Greet’ collection campaigns are also being run by some League of Ireland soccer clubs, where fans can donate shoes to a team player over a designated afternoon.
MAKING A BIG IMPACT
This year, In My Shoes has greatly expanded the campaign to ship thousands more pairs of shoes to help underprivileged children. The initiative formed a few years ago as an idea in the mind of Sligo native Ciaran McHugh, having seen township kids in South Africa going barefoot.
He felt that every child should be afforded the basic necessity of a pair of shoes and the idea has now evolved into an expanded plan, with the aim of sending thousands of more pairs of shoes to the needy children.
“I have never been involved in a project before where so many wanted to do so much for so little. In My Shoes seems to be a cause of its time. A simple idea but one with the potential to impact thousands of lives, in however small a way, by connecting individual acts of kindness. With shoes come school, and education, a hopeful future”, Ciaran said.
The campaign has struck a chord with Irish children, parents, and teachers. Schools have been very engaged previously, as it allows them to promote giving, from one child to another, and gratitude for what we have.
When the shoes are collected, they will be brought to a pop-up sorting facility in Sligo designed to check, sort and pack up to 15,000 pairs of shoes a day.
The sorting blitz will run for two weeks and be staffed by teams of volunteers with diverse backgrounds, from Transition Year students to corporate teams, and even a team made up from the new Ukrainian community in Sligo.
Shoes are more than just foot protection in an African township; they can be the difference between a hopeful or bleak future. Helping to improve regular school attendance and completion, where a walk to school can be miles, they give learners safety, improve self-esteem and open doors to after school sporting activities.
In My Shoes are working with a host of South African NGOs and organisations who are in need of shoes to help deliver their aims – these include the more well-known Connect Support Academy, Catch Trust and Masi Sports.
To get involved with the 2023 campaign, visit inmyshoescharity.org. The campaign runs from 17th-28th April, and schools are encouraged to register via the website.