Brookhill shoe drive

Third-graders at FAME Academy at Brookhill quality check donated shoes as part of a shoe drive at the elementary school. Students are collecting shoes as part of a fundraiser seeking to raise money for teacher Traci Cherry's process of adopting a child internationally. The drive will run through Nov. 30.

What started as an idea for a fundraiser has turned into an entire learning unit for one local elementary school.

FAME Academy at Brookhill teacher Traci Cherry and her family have decided to add a member to their household by way of an international adoption.

Fellow teachers and students at Brookhill have been looking for ways to raise money to help Cherry's family in the effort, and that has now taken the form of a shoe drive.

Third graders at Brookhill are asking people in the community to donate new or gently-used shoes to the drive so they can be repurposed. The shoes will be sold to a company called Funds2Orgs, and the money will go to help Cherry's adoption effort.

Brookhill third-grade teacher Lorraine Duncan said she came up with the idea while she and others were brainstorming ways to help raise funds for Cherry. Duncan said she had donated shoes to a fundraiser before, so she and her coworkers researched the idea before bringing it to the school.

“We have drop-off points in front of the school that people can put donated shoes in day or night,” Duncan said.

Duncan said the third-grade students at the school usually learn about recycling as part of a nine-week unit that includes field trips to the Athens Recycling Center, but with the facility closed due to COVID-19, the unit had to be revamped.

So teachers began a project-based learning unit that covers the “three Rs,” recycling, reducing and reusing. Duncan said the shoe drive fundraiser ended up falling in with that learning unit, so the school's third-grade students have command of the project.

“The shoes must be checked for quality and rubber banded together, and our third graders do that,” she said. “This is their project and their responsibility. They have been overly excited about it. They can't wait to check the drop-off bin every morning.”

Duncan said the goal of the fundraiser is to collect 2,500 pairs of shoes, and around 1,000 have already been taken in. The drive will run through Nov. 30

Duncan said once 2,500 pairs of shoes have been collected, Funds2Orgs will purchase them and send them to Haiti to be distributed among people there who open up micro-enterprises selling the shoes.

According to the company's website, “Funds2Orgs works with micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries to provide them with inventory to sell so they can make a living wage for themselves and their families.”

“If Funds2Orgs simply gave the shoes away to people in developing nations, it would destroy commerce, which is not benefiting the people the shoes are meant to help,” said the company. “In addition, some developing countries have laws that prevent products from being given away precisely for this reason. Therefore, Funds2Orgs sells the shoes collected in shoe drive fundraiser for a minimal investment by micro-entrepreneurs in developing nations, who resell the footwear and make a profit.”

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