Collecting 1,000 shoes seems like an impossible task, but a local group of 5- to 6-year-olds has been able to prove that anything is possible.
When Ahwatukee Foothills Daisy Scout Troop 2023 finished collecting 2,000 shoes for the Nashville, Tenn.-based Soles4Souls organization, troop leader Sandra Marshall said she "felt proud to be part of this (Ahwatukee) community."
After reading an article about the charity from a Martha Stewart magazine, and seeing how the organization collected shoes from people in the U.S. for destitute families (Soles4Souls has collected 12 million pairs of shoes at a rate of one pair per 7 seconds), Marshall thought it would be a great way for the girls to become aware of the fact that they are "lucky to have multiple pairs of shoes in (their) closets."
The girls conducted a holiday drive late last year where they asked friends and neighbors for pairs of shoes. What followed was a "chain reaction," according to Marshall. Friends of friends started to donate shoes, and people even started to bring shoes left over from garage sales.
"We were so excited at first when we got to 500 boxes. However, we needed more, so we put the collection boxes out," Marshall said.
"I collected 249 pairs," troop member Bella Padilla said. "I sent an e-mail to my grandparents, they sent it to their friends, and they got a lot of shoes."
The girls, who attend Kyrene de la Sierra Elementary School, said that they weren't sure if they would be able to collect so many shoes.
"(At first) I thought that it would be hard to collect 2,000 shoes," Brynn Meinhardt said.
But, in the end, they were able to gain a positive experience from the shoe drive.
"I feel good because we were donating shoes to a family that just had bare feet," Katherine Lipari said.
Through this event, the girls were able to learn their responsibilities as a Daisy Scout.
"It's good to be a Daisy Scout." Elena Marshall said. "You get to help other people, (and) be nice to other girls because that's what friends are for."
Ava Rowley felt the same way, "You help people and you can be a sister to the Girl Scouts and have fun."
A favorite memory of troop members was seeing all of the shoes once they were collected.
"When we took pictures we made a daisy out of string, white shoes and black shoes," Sophia Siekerski said.
Some of them enjoyed seeing their favorite types of shoes.
"(I like) high heels," Tatum Sanuik said. "We collected almost 50 pairs."
During the start of the drive, Marshall was worried about setting the goal to 1,000 shoes since many people thought that it was too high of a goal for the girls. However, she grew less anxious about the situation after thinking about the community.
"We live in Ahwatukee," Marshall said. "There is a lot of support in this community, especially for children working for good causes. There are also a lot of nice shoes here."
As a result, the girls were able to refill their wagons with shoes over and over again.
"I couldn't believe how many times I had shoes left on my front doorstep that were brand new and others hardly worn," Marshall added. "I really feel proud to be part of this community."
As the troop leader, Marshall was also worried about the cost of shipping all of the shoes to the organization.
"One of our moms, Wendy Sanuik, works for Coca-Cola and they offered to drive the shoes to Las Vegas so we wouldn't have to pay the shipping to get them there," Marshall continued. "That was a really nice donation because you should see what 2,000 shoes looks like."
Since this is their first year as a troop, Marshall hopes that one day the group can deliver the shoes personally to families in "impoverished" parts of the world.
"The thought of giving someone in the world that does not own one pair of shoes is a fantastic feeling," Marshall said, adding that any shoe companies, retailers and individuals who would like to donate both new and used footwear to the organization can do so through the website www.soles4souls.org.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Anna Carlos is a senior at Xavier College Preparatory and plans to attend the University of Arizona next year. She is interning this semester at the Ahwatukee Foothills News.