A Rolla Boy Scout’s goal of collecting 350 pairs of shoes for orphaned and abandoned children in Burkina Faso, Africa, was surpassed with a total of more than 12,400 pairs of shoes collected.
“It was way over the goal,” said Jorin Larsen, 15, of Boy Scout Troop 137 in Rolla, who collected the shoes for his Eagle Scout project, which he called “Change the World – Foot by Foot.”
Larsen said after a week of collecting shoes from dropboxes at 28 different locations, including local businesses, several large corporations, public schools and Missouri University of Science and Technology, he realized his goal would be quickly exceeded.
“We had a huge community response,” he said. “I have some very good friends and my family gave tons of their time and countless hours.”
Larsen said he canvassed support from his friends and family and held shoe drives in dozens of neighborhoods.
“We spoke to hundreds of people,” Larsen said. “We left a flyer explaining the project and a bag to put shoes in. We then returned the following day and gathered up filled bags from the porches.”
Larsen said all of the gathered shoes were taken back to his home and the pairs were placed in rubber bands, counted and put in bags and stored in his family’s garage. The shoes filled more than 2,000 garbage bags.
“My family and I worked six to eight hours each day on this project, coordinating with shoe donors, picking up shoes, advertising the project and doing shoe drives,” he said. “My friends volunteered their time to help with the shoe drives, with banding and counting the shoes, day after day.”
Larsen said one of his favorite things about this project was seeing the enthusiastic support given from the community.
“There were so many people who willingly gave their time, shoes and enthusiasm to this project. I received notes of encouragement and positive comments every day,” he said.
While most of the shoes came from Rolla, Larsen said some shoes came from other states, including Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Kansas and Nevada, where people heard about his project and sent shoes.
“This project grew into something that I never expected,” Larsen said.
Larsen thanks all of the contributors and volunteers, especially his sister Jantzen.
Larsen said he learned many lessons throughout this project, but said the most important lesson he learned is that people can make a difference in this world.
“Because of one project, we were able to gather thousands of shoes that are going to affect thousands of young lives,” he said.
Larsen said he has the opportunity to deliver some of the donated shoes to the orphans in person and work with them for two weeks in Burkina Faso.
“We will be providing food and aid to some of God’s poorest children. I know this will be a life-changing experience,” he said.