Zionsville teen organizes shoe drive to benefit Soles for Souls


Wisdom Builders Co-op teacher Jan Eyster, left, and Louie Mariacher display shoes collected during the 2016 drive. (Submitted photo)

By Chris Bavender

A Zionsville teen is hosting his second drive to collect shoes to help those in need. The drive runs through Feb. 24, and the homeschooled seventh grader hopes to exceed the number of shoes donated last year.

“I know what it feels like to want a new pair of shoes,” Louie Mariacher said. “I thought maybe I could help kids get shoes who not only want them, but need them.”

The 13-year-old first learned about the Soles for Souls program last year while doing a project on Costa Rica for his World Geography and Missions class at Wisdom Builders Homeschool Co-op.

“He was moved by the thought of kids not having shoes. So we decided to host a shoe drive with the homeschool co-op,” said his mom, Amy. “He and his two sisters constructed donation boxes, set out a ‘shoe-o-meter’ to keep track of the number of shoes donated and encouraged everyone to donated unneeded shoes.”

In one month’s time, 250 pairs of shoes were collected and taken to a drop off site at Brighton Collectibles at the Fashion Mall.

“It went above expectations. I was hoping to get 100 pairs of shoes,” Louie said. “This year I would like to go for 300 or 400.”

“I was surprised at how generous people were with the number and quality of shoes that were donated,” Amy said.

Shoes can be any type and in any condition. The only shoes not accepted are those with wheels. Donations can be dropped off at the Wisdom Builders Co-op at First Baptist Church, 1010 E. 126th St. in Carmel; or Mathnasium of Zionsville, 10725 N Michigan Road.

After the drive, the shoes go to a central location where they are sorted and given to help those in need or in times of disaster.

“They also help people get out of poverty by teaching them to set up micro-businessess of selling used clothing and shoes,” Louie said.

And, Louie said, over and above the shoes collected, he gets joy from helping others.

“It’s fun doing a project and encouraging the community,” he said.

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