Senior basketball player Taylor Atkinson is leading a shoe drive until the end of April to collect new and used shoes for donation to the Kafakumba Training Center in Zambia, Africa.
“I like to help people, so before I graduate I want to do something where I can utilize the campus community and really get people involved,” Atkinson said.
The athletics department held a competition between teams to see who could collect the most shoes, aquiring more than 400 pairs overall.
“We don’t realize the amount of things that we take for granted, like shoes,” said Jamie Destache, Student Athletic Advisory Committee president. “It may seem simple, but in the grand scheme of things, this kind of donation is really special because it allows you to take a step back and see how lucky you are and how simple it is to help the life of someone else.”
Atkinson said she will transport the donation to the Marion Mission Storehouse in Indiana. From there, the shoes will be shipped to the training center for distribution.
“My grandma has been to Africa a few times and has connections in Zambia, so I’m comfortable sending them there to people I trust, so that I know the shoes will go to people who are truly in need,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson targeted athletes specifically since after sports seasons are over many athletes dispose of old shoes.
“People that live in much more dangerous places than us do not have any type of shoes to wear, and this drive will be specifically helping them,” Destache said.
Tony Bouressa, Health Enhancement Center facilities director, explained how the Multi-Activity Center contributed to the drive.
“The MAC holds lost and found items for three months before donating them to charity and, unfortunately, an abundance of shoes are left unclaimed in the MAC office,” Bouressa said. “We donated all the shoes that were abandoned during first term and encouraged others to donate used shoes, too.”
The staff also extended the invitation to intramural teams that provided several pairs of shoes from their lost and found as well.
“When UWSP athletics gives back to help less fortunate people, it instills character and teaches our student athletes the importance of serving others worldwide,” said Shirley Egner, women’s head basketball coach. “These are incredibly valuable life lessons learned, and I am confident our student athletes are recognizing the importance of helping others who are in need.”