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Vickery Creek Middle student collects more than 700 shoes for those in need
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Brody Sanderson, 14, recently collected more than 700 shoes through Souls4Soles.

To be a member of Junior Beta club, members must complete a set number of hours for a service project. This posed a problem for Brody Sanderson, an eighth-grader at Vickery Creek Middle School, who wasn’t sure he would be able to meet his hours due to commitments with football and lacrosse.

To juggle service and sports, Sanderson landed on doing a shoe drive and said donations were “a lot more than I was expecting.”

“I thought sports was kind of going to limit me on how many shoes I could get,” he said. “But actually, sports and school have helped me because I know more people, so I can spread the word faster and get more shoes. It’s actually benefitted me; I didn’t think it would originally.”

A shoe drive was nothing new for Sanderson. Each year, his family tries to do a service project, which has included “one or two” previous shoe drives, including one for victims of a 2011 Tuscaloosa–Birmingham tornado, a blue jean drive and writing letters to over 3,000 soldiers.

“The fact that he came up just to take something on individually, I’m just incredibly proud,” said his mother, Kendra Sanderson.  “Then it made me feel good that the stuff I had taught him when he was younger came back to him: research the cause, find something you can manage, tap into your resources.”

Sanderson set out to collect about 500 pairs of shoes through Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity that collects new and used shoes and donates them to people in need. As of last week, he had collected more than 700.

“I looked at the different groups and most of the other donation groups take only lightly-used or new shoes,” he said, “but Soles4Souls, they take any shoes, even shoes without a pair, because they can grind those down and make them into textiles. Then, they can give them to these women in third-world countries or small vendors, so they can build their economy.”

Some of those shoes will also be given to those in need in the U.S.

For his drive, Sanderson put together a video asking for donations and sought some from teammates. Within about two weeks, donations started rolling in.

“I made a video on my mom’s Facebook and talked about it,” Sanderson said. “I asked some of my teammates on my lacrosse team that I play for and a few people on the football team, too.”

From July to September, donations came from not only locals but residents of Missouri, South Carolina and Texas.

“I was kinda surprised because I wasn’t expecting this,” Sanderson said. “I was just trying to get some hours in, get just a little shoe drive, and it turned out pretty big.”