I read an email about a cruisemate who was swimming in the Carribean and he came to an island where the shore was covered with shoes. A cargo ship had sunk with a shipment of shoes.
The cruisemate punned and wrote that this was the beach of lost soles? My interest piqued I did a little research and found that there is a fashion line of shoes trademarked St. Lucia.
Then I found another interesting article about the problem on the island of St. Lucia is that they don't have shoes except for special occasions.
Here is the article.
At Bishop Canevin, they're in the business of saving soles
February 22, 2010 12:00 am
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Like many of his classmates at Bishop Canevin High School, Sean Conway had never heard of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia until a teacher asked for the students' help.
Canevin physics teacher Russell Del Vecchio had visited the island over the summer to help teach classes in leadership and learned that many of the students and their family members each owned just one pair of shoes.
Because shoes are so costly, they were reserved for school, work and church. The rest of the time, people walked barefoot, sometimes for miles on hot pavement.
So on the first day of school at Canevin in the fall, Mr. Del Vecchio made a presentation about the island and issued a challenge: How about collecting new or slightly worn shoes for the people of St. Lucia?
The campaign Shoes for Soufriere -- named for a town in St. Lucia -- was born.
Now the school has bags and boxes of more than 2,000 shoes -- flipflops, sandals, work shoes, dress shoes, athletic shoes. More are arriving from students' families as well as nearly a dozen Catholic elementary schools.
"I think it's great to help someone out," said Sean, an 18-year-old senior from Robinson.
"This just seems like a practical way to help," said senior Kristi McClellan of Robinson. "We all have shoes we don't wear, don't fit, don't like."
Junior Charlie Hartz of Green Tree said he at first didn't believe each student in St. Lucia had only one pair of shoes.
"We just have so much here we take for granted," said senior Devin Stevenson of Bentleyville.
At Canevin, service is part of high school life. Each student must complete at least 30 hours of community service each of the four years in high school. Some do more.
Also participating in the shoe campaign are students at Slippery Rock University, where Alice Kaiser-Drobney, an assistant professor of professional studies and a friend of Mr. Del Vecchio, made the first connections on the island.
Before going on vacation in 2008, she learned about the island's efforts to provide career training and made contacts. She ended up forgoing some beach time to meet with officials of the island.
On the island, the median age is younger than 30. It became self-governing in 1967 and received independence from the United Kingdom in 1979.
The vacation visit led to the leadership training session for high school students and young adults, taught last summer by Ms. Kaiser-Drobney and Mr. Del Vecchio. He noticed the residents were often barefoot and asked the young people about it.
After learning each had just one pair of shoes, he said, "That's when I approached them. 'Let us see if we can collect shoes in Pittsburgh and send them down to you.' They want shoes."
Of course, there's the question about how to get the shoes there. Plan A fell through when a shipping company focused its donations on Haiti.
Now Mr. Del Vecchio and Ms. Kaiser-Dobney are optimistic the government in St. Lucia will help get the shoes there.
The two teachers plus a group of about 20 Slippery Rock students plan to visit St. Lucia for a week in March and hope to take the shoes and other donations with them.
Canevin also has collected some school supplies, religious materials and used algebra books, complete with answer sheets made by the students.
A residence hall student association at Slippery Rock has donated $2,000, which will be used to buy discounted new black shoes to go with school uniforms. The college students hope to present the shoes in person.
The March visit will be a student leadership conference, organized via the Internet by the Slippery Rock students and young people in St. Lucia.
The idea of collecting shoes for a needy country isn't new, although some efforts are aimed at countries in the midst of disasters. For example, an organization called Shoes4Souls, which has distributed more than 7 million shoes, has partnered with a shoe company to donate 1.3 million shoes to Haiti.
Organizers at Canevin and Slippery Rock hope the St. Lucia effort will lead to a long-running friendship, not just a one-shot mission.
"We want to make a permanent connection," Mr. Del Vecchio said.
He said one resident of St. Lucia told him, " 'This is a good idea, but don't abandon us.' "
Next time I'm in St. Lucia I think I 'm going to take an extra pair of shoes and leave them at the Cathedral Basilica Of Immaculate Conception in downtown St. Lucia along with a cash contribution.