Holy Trinity students let their shoes do the talking


Holy Trinity sixth-grade students Bailey White, left, and Grace Price, right, pose with head of lower school Catherine Koos and 50 of the 650 pairs of shoes they have collected as part of a community service project. Photo by Carl Kotala

A routine trip to the store has resulted in hundreds of pairs of new shoes being donated to needy people throughout the world thanks to the hard work of Holy Trinity sixth graders Bailey White and Grace Price.

“I was at Walmart with my mom and we met these people who were telling us how kids [in impoverished countries] need shoes to go to school,” White said. “So I went home and did more research and I found this organization [Soles4Souls]. We called them and we just set up everything.”

When White told her friend about what she was doing, Price was eager to get involved to help an organization that boasts that, since 2006, it has distributed 26 million pairs of shoes to 127 different countries and all 50 states in the U.S.

“It’s the things you don’t think about,” Price said. “I mean, everybody needs food, shelter and water. But they can’t go to school without shoes.”

The girls started in September with a modest goal of collecting 100 pairs of shoes.

White made up flyers and distributed them around her neighborhood. The girls also used their connections as members of the swim team to get the word out.

Holy Trinity’s lower school administration also backed the project, making the shoe drive part of the campus’ ongoing community service learning program and soon the entire school community on both campuses backed the effort.

As of early January, the girls had collected 650 pairs of shoes and more than $300 in donations.

“We were thinking a pair of shoes for each family that went here, but we’ve gotten people bringing in garbage bags full of shoes,” Price said.

The girls brought their donations to the Soles4Souls collection facility in Jacksonville last month, but they aren’t done yet. They have called several local churches and received permission to speak about their project which will hopefully inspire even more people to bring in shoes.

The work they’ve done on the project has certainly given the girls a sense of accomplishment.

“It’s good to know that we’re helping people in need of shoes,” White said. “I can’t even imagine not going to school.”

Catherine Koos, head of school for Holy Trinity’s lower campus, couldn’t be prouder of her students.

“We do lots of community service at Holy Trinity and we definitely try and engender in our students that we need to give back,” Koos said. “But this particular project was one with student leadership and that’s always more exciting when the kids themselves have come up with the idea.

“It’s a pleasure to come to work every day when you know you have kids like this that really are thinking of others.”