When it comes to shoes, everyone has that pair or two that never sees the light of day.
But what if there were a way to get rid of those unwanted shoes and fight global poverty at the same time?
Since last summer, Oxford Virtual Academy (OVA) first-grader Max Van de Vyver has been collecting pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls, a Nashville, TN-based nonprofit that creates jobs and provides shoes and clothing to those in need.
So far, Max has accumulated more than 2,500 pairs.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Max has set a bold and optimistic goal to help those who are less fortunate. He aims to collect 50,000 pairs of shoes over the course of a year.
He will continue his efforts by collecting shoes at Oxford Virtual Academy’s Elementary Center, located at 168 S Washington St. in the Oxford Marketplace shopping center, and at other locations until late summer 2018.
According to his mother, Sharla Van de Vyver, Max’s journey to help others began in early 2017 when he received a lesson on poverty in Africa through his church.
“Max has a big heart. He’s not your average first-grader. He’s very compassionate and he really felt moved by it and wanted to do something to help kids,” Sharla explained.
“As a family, we started looking for some ideas of what we could do to help others and we found Soles4Souls that distributes shoes to people in Africa and throughout the world, including people in the U.S. . . . Max thought that would be really fantastic. We have four kids, so we were able to go through our closet and pick several pairs of shoes to jump-start it.”
So far, Max and his family said they have received an overwhelming amount of support from Oxford and surrounding communities.
Sharla said collecting throughout an entire year will allow them to gather shoes for every season.
“The organization takes any shoes, any size, any color, men’s, women’s, children’s . . . so we thought as the seasons change here in Michigan, it would allow people to clean out their closet throughout the seasons and have a pair or two to donate,” Sharla said.
After Max’s shoe drive has concluded, he is hoping to accompany Soles4Souls on a mission trip to an impoverished country to help distribute them.
Along with asking for gently used pairs of shoes, the Van de Vyver family is also asking local businesses to serve as collection sites for Max’s cause.
“If there are any businesses in the Oxford area that would like to be listed as a drop-off location and would like to help us, they can reach out to us,” she added. “We’re always open and willing to include whatever businesses might be interested, so we can add them to our website and get them a collection box.”
Interested business owners and those looking to donate shoes may email Sharla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Max’s collection and for a full list of collection sites, visit maxsshoedrive.com.