Receiving and Giving Back
At Soles4Souls, our team is always looking for new partners, especially those who work with communities in need of shoes. So last year when our Director of Asia-Pacific Operations, Sak Sivasurian, had donations from Bata Shoes, he was connected with Marymount Centre in Singapore. Under the Centre are three 24-hour residential homes for girls, a 24-hour crisis centre for abused women, children and victims of trafficking, and a dedicated after-school care program for students of Marymount Convent School. Since the introduction, Soles4Souls has been able to donate 116 pairs of new shoes for the students in the program.
“It was an amazing feeling delivering the shoes. The students there come from troubled backgrounds, and being able to put a smile on these kids’ faces is absolutely priceless. These kids are strong and just to be in their presence and help them a bit meant the world to me,” said Sak.
But what simply started as a donation, turned into an even larger project. Due to the pandemic, it became more challenging for the Student Centre to organize community projects and outreach, but through a collaboration with Raffles Girls’ School, the team was able to launch their first shoe drive for Soles4Souls, aligning with their mission of “touching lives, building hope.” The students and their parents were encouraged to look through their shoes at home and donate any gently used footwear that was no longer needed.
“Through a video the children learned about Soles4Souls and how everyone could play a role in the shoe drive. Teachers demonstrated how the dirt on the footwear should be brushed out, and washed with water. The children found their comfortable spots near the drains, adhering to social distancing guidelines of at least one meter. While the clean-as-new items were left to dry in the sun, the kids collected colorful notes to pen their messages to would-be recipients of their gifts,” wrote Ling See Yee in Marymount Centre’s annual report.
Soles4Souls never requires shoe drive participants to clean the shoes, nor write handwritten letters, but the engagement from the students and love they put into the project speaks volumes. In total, the Centre was able to collect 306 pairs of gently used shoes, as well as 150 pieces of clothing.
For an organization to not only receive a donation, but to give back and fulfill their mission by encouraging the ones they serve to give back as well, truly brings the work we do full-circle. There’s always more good to be done, and so much more can be accomplished when we do it together.