A Rolla Boy Scout is hoping to “change the world - foot by foot” by collecting shoes for orphans in a west African nation.
Jorin Larsen, 15, of Boy Scout Troop 137 in Rolla, is asking for donations of shoes of any types, sizes and conditions as part of his Eagle Scout project.
After getting his project approved, he started the collection Feb. 28. Larsen will accept donations until the first week of April.
While several private businesses are having their employees donate shoes, the public can donate at the following locations for Larsen’s project: The Centre, Rolla Public Library, Bond Clinic, Staples, U.S. Post Office and Scooter’s Coffee Shop at Phelps County Regional Medical Center, all in Rolla.
Larsen said he started out with a goal to collect 350 pairs of shoes.
“I had no idea how many we’d get, but we’ve far surpassed that already,” he said.
The shoes, once collected, will be delivered to orphans in Burkino Faso, Africa, one of the poorest countries in the world. Of the country’s 16 million residents, approximately 1 million are orphaned or abandoned. Diseases like AIDS also are a problem in the country.
Shoes protect from soil-borne diseases and worms. Additionally, shoes are often required to attend school in Burkino Faso.
“I have all these things like shoes and I take it for granted. They (orphans) have nothing,” Larsen said. “Your extra pair of shoes could be their first pair.”
Larsen got the idea for the project from a friend, Travis Gugelman, who started the nonprofit organization Dando Amor, which translates to “Giving Love.” However, the group is only sending the shoes overseas for Larsen. Larsen is doing his collection as a separate program from Dando Amor.
“He (Gugelman) told me about the conditions the orphans were in and I thought this was the best way to help,” Larsen said.
Larsen said when some people hear about his Eagle Scout project, they ask, why Africa?
“We’re all brothers and sisters and boundaries shouldn’t affect those we help,” Larsen said.
For questions about Larsen’s project, email him at jorin.footbyfoot @gmail.com