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Junior high student seeks shoes

Picayune Junior High School student council president, Elijah Hickman, returned to school this year with a plan to help the people he had encountered during a mission trip.

Over the summer, Hickman spent eight days in La Jolla, Mexico on a mission trip. He said his church group helped the locals farm, work on a playground they had  built during a previous trip, and helped entertain the children.

One thing Hickman noticed while he was in Mexico was that the people had shoes that had holes in them and were worn down by walking on cobblestone roads.

One incident that stuck out to Hickman was a boy that had cut away the top of his shoe after a hole had grown so big that one of his toes was hanging out of the shoe. He told Hickman that it was more comfortable to remove the top of the front of his shoe, exposing his toes, than to have one toe hanging out of his shoe.

Junior high teacher Sarah Dasda, the student council moderator, said Hickman was already texting her and telling her about starting a shoe drive at school before he even made it back to Mississippi.

When Hickman got back, he and Dasda met with junior high principal James Williams to present the idea to him. Dasda said in the meeting, “he (Hickman) came in, sat down with the principal, so grown (up), and said ‘this what we have to do. We have to make a difference.’”

Hickman said he became hopeful for the success of the project after Williams told him he had some shoes he wanted to donate to the campaign.

At the school, signs and announcements spread the word about the shoe drive, which has made it successful within the school, but Hickman and Dasda are looking to expand the campaign.

Dasda said she has been telling people she knows in the community about the shoe drive and they have been dropping shoes off at the junior high school.

“It’s really great to see how the kids get involved and they want to bring shoes for everyone. We hope it just keeps going,” Dasda said.

One concern Dasda has is the expense in shipping shoes to La Jolla. She said the student council and the school have limited resources to send the boxes of shoes, so she is asking people in the community to either sponsor the shipping of a box or by donating towards shipping costs.

Dasda said one person has decided to sponsor the shipping of a box, which costs $90 to $100.

“If all else fails, I’ll ship them myself. If I have to put them in a backpack and get them there, I will. I’m not letting this kid down,” Dasda said.

People may also donate new or lightly worn, closed toe shoes for men, women or children to the shoe donation, Hickman said. Due to the living conditions and work conditions of the residents in La Jolla, he said closed toe shoes would be best.

Hickman said he knows he is fortunate to live in America, but to see people who have to walk or bike everywhere and some people who don’t even have houses, made him realize that people in America are spoiled and “super fortunate.”

Hickman said the student council has been selling candy and plans on hosting a garage sale to raise money to ship the shoes.

“This one kid is going to make a difference,” Dasda said. “He’s going to make a change and that’s what student council is all about. We want these children to be leaders and make a difference, not only in our community, but in other places.”