Family helps church collect 'Shoes 4 Uganda'

By Valencia

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV){}-- It all started when Sundae Johnson learned about her church missionary group's visit to Agape Children's Village in Uganda.

"I just heard that there was a need for shoes and it sort of went in one ear and out the other," said Johnson, organizer for Shoes 4 Uganda. "It kept coming back over and over until I couldn't sleep at night. And I would wake up literally at 3 a.m. thinking about shoes."

Johnson and her 9-year-old son decided to help to collect 1,332 pairs of shoes for kids in need.

"My son and I would go hand out fliers, we made posters. We would literally go out to soccer fields where there were lots of people and he would go walk from person to person and hand them a flier and ask if they would be willing to give us their old dirty shoes," Johnson said.

"We would say, 'If you don't want your old shoes, then you can donate them to the needy', said Gabriel Johnson, Sundae's son.

Gabriel's method worked. Before{}she and her son{}knew it, there were more than 1,000 shoes laid out in their church.

"It literally was as simple as just asking and telling people about the cause and it was almost like they were waiting for someone to ask," Sundae Johnson said.

The shoes will be shipped to Uganda, where Sundae said many orphans are forced to go to school and work without shoes.

"They also get parasites on their feet because they walk without shoes and then sometimes they lead to infections or cripple them or they use dirty blades or dirty knives to try to remove the parasites and then they cause unsuspecting children to get HIV."

Mary Fitzwater is a first{}grade teacher at Hanahan Elementary. She got her class involved.{}Together they donated shoes to the cause.

"They were just shocked that people didn't have shoes. We just want them to look beyond themselves and realize that there are needs in this world and they can help," Fitzwater said.

Tuesday night was the first time the Johnsons saw the fruit of their labor.

"It makes me feel happy that someone, a kid that actually needs it, could get it instead of we have all these shoes that we don't need," said Gabriel Johnson.

The program collected more shoes than expected, so organizers are in need of funds to help ship the shoes overseas.

If you would like to donate, send an email to