Makenna Marchbanks, 17, of Blanchard, Okla., a junior at Blanchard High School, has collected more than 5,000 pairs of new and gently-used shoes to enhance the health and self-esteem of children whose families cannot afford to buy them new footwear. Makenna says she will never forget the day a classmate came to school wearing shoes that were literally falling apart. To protect the girl from embarrassment, Makenna tried to help her fix them. “We borrowed duct tape and taped her shoes back together,” she said. “I was heartbroken.” Later that week, someone bought her friend a new pair of shoes and Makenna could see how excited she was. “She was so proud of those shoes,” she said.
Makenna began trying to figure out how she could help other young people who needed decent shoes. She created Facebook and Instagram accounts to begin soliciting donations of shoes and money, created fliers and knocked on doors, attended community events, and spoke to her church and her youth group. Makenna also sold T-shirts to raise money for new shoes. Since she started, she has put good shoes on the feet of thousands of children who otherwise would go without, including 35 kids who got brand-new shoes to start their school year. “One 5-year-old told me she had never had a matching pair of shoes until she came to school,” said Makenna. “My hope and dream is that no child has to worry about a pair of shoes.”