After seeing a commercial back in May featuring orphans who had no shoes on their feet, ten-year old Emma Levasseur was inspired to collect new pairs of shoes for orphans around the world who have never known the feeling of putting their feet into a brand new pair of sneakers.
She started by placing a drop box in the lobby of her school at Rochester Memorial School, and with the help of her mom and dad, they expanded by placing drop-off boxes for new shoes and socks donations at the Plumb Library, at Emma’s mother Wendy Levasseur’s workplace, and in front of the Levasseur house in Rochester.
The Wanderer first introduced you to Emma and her family in the May 29 issue when Emma, her fourth-grade teacher Ms. Griffin, and her family reached out to the community to help Emma reach her goal of collecting 50 pairs of shoes by the time the school year ended on June 18. Since then, Wendy Levasseur said the donations started to trickle in from the school and from the other drop boxes until Emma surpassed her goal, collecting exactly 67 pairs of shoes and 152 pairs on new socks.
“We did awesome!” said Levasseur on July 8. She said Emma was thrilled with the results and was excited that the community responded with such generosity.
As the shoe drive gained momentum, one part-time resident of Marion read the article in The Wanderer about Emma’s shoes for orphans campaign, and he felt compelled to reach out to the Levasseur family to help out.
“He read the article and it touched his heart,” said Levasseur. “So they are taking care of the cost of the shipping for us.”
Ken Parsons lives in Texas and owns a summer home in Marion. In a phone interview from his Marion cottage, Parsons said he regularly reads The Wanderer online while he is away from Tri-Town, and during the first week of June, while having morning coffee in Texas and reading the May 28 issue, he read about Emma and her efforts to collect shoes for orphans around the world. Parsons said he and his wife recently became involved in a similar organization collecting shoes for children in Jamaica, so the story resonated with him and his own experience.
“So that’s why the article caught my eye,” said Parsons.
Parsons, a pilot for the United Postal Service, contacted his union, which has a charitable foundation that raises millions of dollars for charity each year. He also reached out to his fellow UPS pilots and, with a little luck, one of them had a connection to Mike Julian, the international director of Buckner Shoes for Orphan Soles in Dallas, Texas.
Parsons contacted the Levasseurs and offered to ship the shoes to Dallas using what he called a “crew mail system” at no cost to the Levasseurs, who would otherwise be responsible for coming up with the funds to cover the cost of shipping the shoe donations to the organization in Dallas that distributes the shoes abroad.
“There is no cost to ship the shoes,” said Parsons. “This is just a bunch of people taking some time to help out.”
Parsons will deliver the shoes straight to Logan Airport for a direct flight with one of his fellow UPS pilots to Dallas. From there, Parson’s colleague will pick up the shoes and deliver them to Buckner in Dallas himself.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Parsons about Emma’s efforts to make a difference for the orphans. “We always worry about the next generation … and how much they’re going to care or give back.” Parsons described reading Emma’s story as “heart-warming.”
“We’re very proud of Emma,” said Levasseur. “It was definitely a success, and we’re happy with the outcome.
By Jean Perry