318 pairs of shoes, and counting

A seven-year-old Mooresville boy has collected more than 300 pairs of shoes since the start of February, hoping to help others in need throughout the world with the non-profit Soles4Souls.
Instead of presents for his seventh birthday, Hugo Grack asked his friends and family to bring new or gently worn shoes to his birthday party on Feb. 15 in order to help hit the Soles4Souls’ one million pair mark for their “Pair It Forward” campaign.

“We found out about Soles4Souls by stumbling across it on the internet,” said Dawnmarie Grack, Hugo’s mother. “Hugo said that he knew other people needed shoes and he has such a giving heart. I’m thrilled that he chose to do this … he’s a pretty great kid.”
“We all need to help and be a community,” said Hugo.
Founded in 2006, Soles4Souls is a “global not-for-profit institution dedicated to fighting the devastating impact and perpetuation of poverty through the distribution of shoes and clothing.”
According to its website, soles4souls.org, the Tennessee-based charity explains that “the organization advances its anti-poverty mission by collecting new and used shoes and clothes from individuals, schools, faith-based institutions, civic organizations and corporate partners, then distributing those shoes and clothes both via direct donations to people in need and by provisioning qualified micro-enterprise programs designed to create jobs in poor and disadvantaged communities.”
Dawnmarie added that “one of the many things that is a motivation for this shoe drive is that there are places where children are not even allowed to go to school if they do not have shoes, and many of them do not.”
“By donating shoes, a person could be allowing a child to get an education,” she said.
Before his birthday party, Hugo had already collected 147 pairs of shoes, exceeding his original goal of 100 pairs.
“A lot of people have come together so far to support Hugo's shoe drive, including extended family, friends, some Trail Life USA members, a few ATA Karate Mooresville students, co-workers of Hugo's poppa, Cyntucci's Bakery, Kid's Emporium, Back to Basics Tutoring, and more than we can even list,” said Dawnmarie.
“We even had two friends pit their co-workers against one another to see who could bring in the most shoes for Hugo's shoe drive.”
After counting the donations from his party, the shoe drive has thus far gathered 318 pairs and more are still rolling in. When asked how he felt his efforts to collect shoes was going, homeschooled Hugo gave an enthusiastic thumbs up.
“Hugo is already talking about doing this again for his birthday next year,” said Dawnmarie. “We love this boy, who never ceases to amaze us.”
Because the drive has been so successful, the Grack family has chosen to continue collecting shoes this month and welcomes the community to either drop off their new or gently-worn pairs or to donate toward shipping the shoes to Soles4Souls in Nashville, TN.

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