Originally published March 19, 2007
By TaMaryn Waters
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
It started as an idea.
Theresa and Maureen McKenna were learning how to sharpen their skills during a medical mission trip in the Dominican Republic three years ago. They couldn't help but notice people, especially women, who walked for miles barefoot. Many of the villagers' injuries could be avoided if they had a pair of shoes.
The 26-year-old twins, who are medical students at Florida State University, launched the "Share a Pair" drive to help provide shoes for people living in poverty-stricken areas of the world, such as Africa, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Since the Tallahassee Democrat reported the story in November, they've collected more than 2,000 pairs. They recently went to Haiti and left behind four suitcases full of shoes.
"We anticipated that people would participate, but the response has been phenomenal," McKenna said.
The donations vary from new and used athletic shoes to dress shoes and high heels. The twins stored them in their apartment and Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church until the bounty became too much for the small quarters.
Garnet & Gold business owner Guy Moore saw the article and offered to house the donations in the store's warehouse. There, volunteers and employees sort them and place them in clear plastic bags.
"It's one of those tangible charities that you can do," Moore said.
A container that can be used for shipping the shoes can range from $4,000 to $6,000 when sent from Miami to the designated country. In an effort to help the twins, Moore discovered there was a local couple who sent off shoes and clothes to orphans in the Ukraine through their charity, "His Kids, Too!"
He also found someone who builds homes in Haiti. As a result of that collaboration, a 20-foot container will be shipped to Tallahassee this week, and the twins won't have to pay the shipping costs to Haiti.
"We're hoping to send two to three containers a year," said McKenna, who said they are currently fundraising for the cost of the next container.
Teresa Fillmon, who runs the His Kids, Too! charity with her husband, Rich, said they were in need of children's shoes for the charity.
"These girls collected tons of shoes. They had this great idea, and they didn't know it was going to be like this," Fillmon said.
Although medical school keeps the twins busy, the Share a Pair drive has flourished as a result of their commitment, the local community, and of course, shoes – and plenty of them.
Contact reporter TaMaryn Waters at (850) 599-2162 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Employees of Garnet and Gold sort shoes
Shoes ready to ship!
Guy Moore and Teresa with hundreds of pair of
shoes ready to be boxed for shipping to Ukraine.