A pair of shoes can make a world of difference. This month, Buckner Orphan Care International kicks off its annual Shoes for Orphan Souls drive at Valley View Center. The goal? To collect 50,000 pairs of new shoes that will be sent to orphans in Russia, Romania, China and Mexico.


“There’s a tremendous need for shoes, but it’s not just the shoes, it’s the thought that goes with them,” says Tiffany Taylor, director of Shoes for Orphan Souls. “These orphans desperately need to know that someone cares about them.”


Local radio station KCBI established the shoe drive five years ago, and Buckner began coordinating the program last year, collecting 20,000 pairs of shoes. This year, Buckner is expanding the program with the help of the Macerich Company, owner of Valley View Center. The company is promoting the drive in eight other shopping malls around the country.


The project only happens with the help of hundreds of volunteers, says Taylor. First, they need schools, civic organizations, churches and individuals to collect shoes and bring them to the drop-off site at Valley View throughout August. Other volunteers are needed August 1 through September 12 to work at the mall — lacing, sorting and boxing the shoes for delivery.


“This is a major operation, especially towards the end of the drive,” says Taylor. “Even two hours of time is greatly appreciated.”


If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even travel with Buckner to deliver the shoes. Volunteers must pay their own way on the 10-day trips, but have the opportunity to visit two orphanages per day and distribute shoes to the children. Volunteers are needed to travel to China in October, and to Russia and Romania in November.


To find out how you can volunteer for the Shoes for Orphan Souls project or one of 1100 other nonprofit agencies, call the Volunteer Center of Dallas County at 214-826-6767 or visit our web site at www.non-profits.org.