Share A Shoe Foundation
was started in August 2008 after Keenan Bailey accompanied his mother on a business trip to South Africa. During an excursion outside Johannesberg, Keenan noticed large numbers of children his age playing soccer in bare feet on gravel fields of red clay and rocks. He was touched by the happiness they exhibited while playing, even though they were living in conditions worse than most farm animals in the United States. He knew instantly that he wanted to do something to help.
Over 200 pairs were recently sent to Hurricane Victims in Haiti thanks to distribution by Soles for Souls.
What Keenan realized was that the children needed the same shoes that his friends back home used for one soccer season and then tossed away. He took pictures of these children to share with his siblings at home who had already been brainstorming philanthropic ideas for the community service hours they were required to perform at school. There had been many discussions around the dinner table about doing meaningful service that would truly impact people, rather than service for the sake of accumulating hours. The Bailey kids wanted their hours to count, so they were determined to find a project they could own as a family.
Back in Johannesburg, a representative from the SOS Children's Villages happened to be in the audience listening to Keenan's mother. From the podium, she mentioned that her son was looking for a charity in South Africa to help him execute an idea. The two were introduced, and today you are seeing the fruits of those discussions.
Keenan went home to Florida and engaged his siblings Madison and Owen in formalizing Share A Shoe. Each of the Bailey kids contributed his or her own personal skills to the project. Owen acts as the project leader, organizing shoe pickups and clean-up groups. Madison promotes the program through friends and family, and Keenan uses his artistic abilities to design flyers and the logo. It's a true collaboration of skills, talents, and dedication. Even little sister Morgan pitches in.
Quicky the Baileys began collecting gently used cleats and athletic shoes from friends, family, and even strangers. They enlisted the help of fellow students, who also earn community service hours, to clean and pack the shoes. In less than three short months, the Baileys collected over 100 pairs of shoes. Each pair is cleaned of any soil or grime, and a note to the child in South Africa is tied to the shoelaces. The note sends best wishes from the playing fields of the United States to a child playing on less fortunate fields in South Africa. With the help of the SOS Children's Villages, the shoes are distributed to kids who truly need them.
The Share A Shoe program is ongoing, and boxes of gently used cleats are sent over in collections of 100 pairs every few months. The goal of Share A Shoe is to collect 1,000 pairs of shoes over the next five years. With your help, this goal can be reached.