Manatee Elementary students donate shoe collection


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Students in the Future Leaders of Manatee club at Manatee Elementary School show off their donated shoes.

Courtesy of Lorraine Dierking

For some, collecting shoes is a fun and rewarding hobby —  but others, especially young people, might not have the same opportunity to even have a single pair of shoes.

Soles4Souls is a project dedicated to donating shoes to children in poverty-stricken countries and accepts donations from all over.

One Brevard County student decided that getting involved with a donation program was a perfect fit for cutting down on his growing shoe collection.

Ryan Dierking will donate his gently-used shoes as part of the Future Leaders of Manatee club at Manatee Elementary School in Viera.

“The kids are collecting gently-used shoes from March 24 to 29,” said Ryan’s mother Lorraine Dierking. “What they’re going to do is have a day at Manatee Elementary where all of the kids (will collect funds), and the money that they make will hopefully help them to mail the shoes to Soles4Souls.

“It was kind of a perfect fit for (Ryan),” Dierking said. “(At first) we weren’t sure what the club was about. However, shoes are his thing; he owns more than I do! My husband at the time was telling him that, ‘for every five pair of sneakers that you donate, I’ll buy you a new pair,’ as he grew out of them.”

The Future Leaders of Manatee is a new club at Manatee Elementary, which has reached out to its students for the Soles4Souls campaign. Students were selected for participation in the campaign by their teachers.

“The teacher chooses (the students for participation),” Dierking explained. “So, we had all these shoes piling up, and (Ryan) was asked to belong to this club, and when we heard what it was about, we were like wow, this just fell right into our laps.”

Shoes also can be donated from those outside of Manatee Elementary, if given to the club by March 29.

For more information about Soles4Souls, go to soles4souls.org/about-us.