Girls gather shoes for Africa

Youngsters inspired to help others collect shoes for Africa and funds for children with cleft palate

Mariah McDonald

Three young girls are hoping to change the world, one pair of shoes at a time.

Mariah McDonald, McKenna Jennings, and Serena Ball, all 10 years old, recently went around their Victoria and Saanich neighbourhoods collecting shoes from people’s door steps.

The trio, who call themselves the Chocolate Covered Strawberries, were inspired to collect shoes for people in Africa after reading a story about a girl who did the same thing.

“We’ve been reading about different countries and we were really drawn to Africa,” McKenna said. “We wanted to help them.”

The girls organized a shoe drive and asked friends, family and neighbours for help. To date, they’ve gathered more than 100 pairs of shoes.

“Everybody really wanted to help us help them,” Serena said.

The shoes will be shipped to Africa through the Compassionate Resource Warehouse, an organization that ships containers of supplies to different countries all across the world.

Sixty pairs of shoes, mostly sandals and dress shoes, have already been sent.

“I think everyone in North America, we look on ourselves and don’t really see how lucky we are,” McKenna said.

“(People in Africa) don’t have a lot of shoes, some of them don’t have any shoes. We really wanted to help them. We felt like we could help them, so (we asked ourselves) why are we not right now?”

But the girls aren’t only collecting shoes.

Their next goal is to raise funds for Smile Train, an organization helping children born with cleft palates receive surgery.

The three girls, who are all home-schooled, say they plan to busk, or sing, outside of the Jennings’ family business, Jennings Florists on Estevan Avenue.

A donation box will be available at Jennings Florists for those wishing to help the Chocolate Covered Strawberries raise funds for Smile Train.

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