Local students collect hundreds of shoes for South African children
March 19, 2013
By Lillian O'Rorke
The space where Anjali Grutzius usually parks her car has been taken over for the past several weeks with shoes — 440 pairs of shoes to be exact.
They are not all for her; in fact, none of them are. The 17-year-old Skyline High School senior has been running a shoe drive for South African children as part of her DECA project, which she will present at the DECA state competition March 7-9.
Grutzius didn’t decide to undertake the shoe drive because she needed a good school project; she made the decision after visiting schools in Underberg, South Africa last April. Grutzius went to Underberg with Generation Joy, a foundation run by Beaver Lake Middle School science teacher Curtis Betzler to help deliver goods to students. During the trip, she visited 10 schools, where the group handed out pencils, notebooks, stuffed animals and shoes.
“It was amazing,” she said. At one school, she added, “The looks on their faces just lit up my face because they were so astonished that they got 20 pencils.”
Grutzius noticed, though, that at some of the schools the shoes Generation Joy brought were too big for the younger students, and many of the younger South African students ended up leaving without any shoes for themselves.
“I wanted to find more elementary-sized shoes for these kids, and that was my goal for shoes for this drive,” she said.
Grutzius worked with the students at Endeavour Elementary School to set up donation boxes at the school. Before the drive even started, the bins were filled with 100 pairs of shoes, she said. The younger students really got involved, she added, and even stood outside in the drop-off area Feb. 14 and 15 to grab bags of shoes straight from people’s cars and put them into the donation box.
By the time the drive finished, Grutzius had to recruit the help of DECA classmates Alyssa Holt, Cody Hatfield and Steven Richards. The four spent the weekend of Feb. 16-17 sorting, tying and packing 16 boxes full of shoes, up to size 6 1/2. They then delivered the shoes to Beaver Lake Middle School so that they can be included in Generation Joy’s April shipment to South Africa.
While the shoe drive is over, Beaver Lake will accept donations for the first three weeks of March, including school supplies, stuffed animals, books, new clothes (which have to still have the tag attached to clear customs), sports equipment, art supplies and bikes.