One Proud Mom

Don’t you love these moments when you are a proud mom? I mean you are beaming ear to ear with a smile! It makes all the challenges of motherhood worthwhile. I can’t help but share my moment with you:

Pompano brothers collecting shoes for needy kids in South Africa
Faran Fagen | Special Correspondent
January 11, 2009

While many students were volunteering at school fundraisers or tutoring younger children to earn their required community service hours, three Pompano Beach siblings have been busy scraping the dirt off the bottom of metal cleats in their kitchen sink.

More than satisfying a community service requirement, Keenan, Owen and Madison Bailey’s Share A Shoe initiative will provide gently used cleats for South African children.

Heading into December, the trio had collected more than 100 pairs from friends, family and neighbors. They are preparing to ship the first batch to the
SOS Children’s Village of South Africa for distribution to children living in shack villages.

“It’s a lot of fun doing it for people in Africa because we’re helping them,” said Madison, a 15-year-old at Cardinal Gibbons High School. “We wanted to do something special for our community hours that really helped people.”

The idea came from the youngest of the three siblings: Keenan, a 13-year-old at St. Coleman’s Catholic School in Pompano Beach.

While on a business trip this summer to South Africa with his mother, Maria Bailey, Keenan noticed that the children were playing lots of soccer — shoeless — on gravel fields. He thought about his soccer-playing friends back home and how they would throw out a pair of cleats after having only used them for a year.

Keenan brought pictures back from the trip, including pictures of the children playing shoeless. When his two siblings saw the photographs, the idea for Share A Shoe began to take shape.

The trio passed out fliers to family and friends and went door-to-door, asking for shoe donations. They collected from their church and used their Facebook accounts to
collect shoes from families outside South Florida. A Web site is in the works,

More than 100 pairs of used cleats were collected, cleaned and prepped for shipping by including a small note on each shoe that read “Kids here care.”

“They’re absolutely making a difference, and they’re making a difference globally,” Maria Bailey said. “The fact that they’re motivating other people to have some sense of global community is very important, too.”

The SOS Children’s Village of South Africa features group homes where children without families live. During the summer trip, Keenan met with executives and explained that many of his friends in the United States wear their cleats for one athletic season and then look for places to donate them. Officials said they would gladly distribute the used cleats to needy children if Keenan could collect them.

One more element to the effort: Mom agreed to pay the shipping, and couldn’t be happier to do so.

“I’m extremely proud of them for making an impact,” she said. “I try to teach them that the world can exist outside their community. They have done so much work. It makes me feel like they’ve learned some good lessons.”

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