From the 17-28th April, pupils from across Dublin 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. Some of the local National Schools who are already registered to take part in the campaign so far include Scoil Úna Naofa in Crumlin, St Kevins Girls in Kilnamanagh and Bainrion na nAingal in Ballyfermot.
Parents nationwide are being sent up into attics and under the stairs, to dig out pairs of sports shoes which are still in good condition, but which have been outgrown by their owners in Ireland. ‘Meet & Greet’ collection campaigns are also being ran by some League of Ireland soccer clubs, where fans can donate shoes to a team player over a designated afternoon. The campaign is being ran by In My Shoes, who in the pre-Covid world, 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 & Lesotho. This year they have greatly expanded the campaign to ship thousands more pairs of shoes to help underprivileged children.
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. The campaign has struck a chord with Irish children, parents, and teachers. Schools have been very engaged with prior campaigns, 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.
In My Shoes have attracted some significant support from major corporations for this campaign: International courier UPS have partnered to collect donated shoes from every national school in Ireland. Smurfit Kappa are producing thousands of custom designed boxes to carry donated shoes to Africa. 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, as well as many more.
In My Shoes began a few years ago as an idea floating around in the mind of Sligo native Ciarán McHugh, seeing township kids in South Africa going barefoot.He felt that every child should be afforded the basic necessity of a pair of shoes. This idea has now evolved into an expanded plan to send thousands more pairs of shoes to the needy children. Ciaran said: “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”
To get involved with the 2023 ‘In My Shoes’ campaign visit inmyshoescharity.org. The campaign runs from 17th-28th April, and schools are encouraged to register via the website.