raise awarenessWe all need a little help at times. And, when people or organizations are looking to raise awareness and money for their good cause, it’s an opportunity for people to become volunteers and supporters of a greater narrative.

That’s what happened to one super volunteer by the name of Jennifer “Jen” Klinger got involved in a cause that touched her. In a Facebook posting, she came to learn of a shoe drive fundraiser that was sponsored by Ian and Amy Snyder. They were looking to raise money to help them defray the costs of a third child into their family.

How Jen Initially Got Involved

“When Ian Snyder posted the drive and the request for shoe donations on Facebook, it peaked my curiosity. I found it interesting that it was possible to raise funds–for the Snyder adoption–through a shoe collection drive and in turn, provide a means of income and/or footwear for people in developing countries,” Jen reflected.

Coincidentally, Jen’s husband had been traveling to Haiti for a number of years, and this was one of the countries where the shoes were shipped. Jen’s interest was piqued when she learned that shoes collected in the United States were being used to create inventory for micro-entrepreneurs (small business owners) in developing countries, such as Haiti.

Jen immediately set out to clean all of the shoe bins in the closets of her family. She asked her family to help her and they were happy to contribute their shoes.

How Jen Decided to do More

It didn’t take too long for Jen to clear out the closets of her family. And, after she did so, she felt she wanted to do more for Ian and Amy, but she had no idea what more she could do as a volunteer.

The answer came to her at Sunday mass as the pastor challenged the churchgoers to make their church an active presence in the community.

“I immediately thought of the Snyders and their shoe drive. Ian is the visionary and director of the Refuge in downtown Sunbury. Several years ago, he saw a need in Sunbury where young people could spend time off the streets, playing games, getting tutored with schoolwork, and learning life skills. The result? The Refuge. Why couldn’t we–as a church–support a local family who has given so much to the community, who in turn, will be giving shoes to developing countries?” Jen said.

Jen decided to speak to her local church and invite the community to help the Snyders. She told them how it was an opportunity to help a family that had done so much for their community, but also to help people who were seeking an economic opportunity. There was an enthusiastic response to her request.

The main way the community became engaged was through the church’s Upward Flag Football and Cheerleading program. Each weekend in the fall over 1,000 people attended the football games. During half-times, each weekend Jen and other volunteers communicated the need for gently worn, used and new shoes. The challenge was simple: “If every person brings ONE pair of shoes, we can donate 1,000 pairs of shoes to the Snyder Adoption Shoe Drive.” Almost immediately, shoes were collected and each week the fans were provided with an update of the number of bags collected for the shoe drive toward the 300 bag goal.

During the time of the shoe drive, Hurricane Matthew happened in October of 2016. Unfortunately, the hurricane had affected Haiti, which is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Several thousand lives were lost, 200,000 homes were destroyed or damaged and there was more than $2.25 billion in damage.

Jen increased the call for shoes to ship to micro-entrepreneurs (small business owners) who were in need of inventory. The shoe drive came full circle and concluded with success, and as Jen said, “To me, that is what it’s all about: helping a local family who has a heart to help others.”


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)

© 2016 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.