By MEGAN GRIGORIAN
Senior Dustin McDonald gets a daily reminder of his charitable cause when he opens his closet every morning only to see more than 100 pairs of shoes piled to the ceiling. As he walks through his apartment there are white trash bags full of shoes everywhere. He opens the closet door for a jacket in the living room, more shoes.
From Thanksgiving to January 29, McDonald has been collecting used, mint condition running shoes for the charity Shoes4Africa. Along with Iulian Langa, University of Mary Washington Alum, he set up boxes around campus and other spots in Fredericksburg in hopes of reaching a goal of 120 pairs to be sent to Kenya and Haiti.
Reach it they did. With the help of local advertisement on 99.3, donations from the Fredericksburg Running Club, and the UMW student and faculty, they have collected over 150 pairs of shoes.
Although there are variations across the country, McDonald brought this organization to Fredericksburg to provide a charity that college students could handle.
“What’s different about it from Toys for Tots or things like that is that college students don’t have to spend their money,” McDonald said. “Over Thanksgiving or winter break they could pick them up from friends or family. So it seemed like it would be pretty successful compared to the other ones.”
Along with UMW, the Fredericksburg community has embraced this charity. The box at the Central Rappahannock Regional
Library was always overflowing when they emptied it on a monthly basis.
According to Langa, running shoes are perfect for the conditions in Africa. Air can travel through them easily in the hot weather, they are more durable than sandals or other types of shoes, and they provide more cushioning for the daily traveling that residents endure for daily necessities.
“These people are walking barefoot in nasty conditions,” Langa said. “There are kids that have to walk through mud and sewage for water everyday and mothers and fathers who have to walk ten miles to the market, all barefoot.”
McDonald thought that shoes would be good in providing protection against diseases and the natural area that surround the land.
“What’s good is that it protects them from poisonous plants, snakes, and parasites,” he said.
From here the shoes will be shipped to Charlottesville and Richmond where they will be sorted, cleaned, and shipped to Africa.
McDonald and Langa are now trying to raise money for the overall shipping cost. They are already brainstorming ideas.
“We’re trying to do something like what they do in Giant when you donate a dollar and they put your name on a turkey,” Langa said. “We want to set that up in the nest and everybody who gives a dollar can put their name on a shoe.”
In addition to Shoes4Africa, McDonald has been busy creating the on campus club Students for Safe Rides. The organization’s purpose is to find a way to minimize drunk driving among students.
“We’re trying to get local taxi companies to give students a window of time to show their student ID and get a free ride,” Langa said. “In return we would put logos of the companies on cups and shirts.”
Although still in the organizational stage, the club wants to have something going by next semester.