Founded by Port Moody resident Kelly Strongitharm in January 2013 after spending the day in the Dominican with her sponsor child Ruben; Ruben’s Shoes collects gently used shoes and gives them to people in need. In countries like the Dominican Republic, kids can’t go to school without shoes. Millions of people around the world don’t event own one pair of shoes, simply because they don’t have the means.
Over the past two years, Ruben’s Shoes has successfully shipped and distributed 23,971 pairs of new and gently used shoes to children and adults in the Dominican Republic, India, The Philippines and Tanzania. The organization is planning to ship its 3rd container with over 10,000 pairs of shoes to Sierra Leone this summer.
“We have identified a large need for shoes in Sierra Leone,” says Kelly Strongitharm. “The shoes will be distributed to thousands of children to help them attend school as shoes are a mandatory requirement. Beyond this, they will be delivered to thousands of barefoot walkers to help with the prevention of wide-spread infectious diseases such as Ebola.”
Shoes are a great first step, but so much more is needed for children to receive an education. To create real access to education, Ruben’s Shoes has created an Education Sponsorship Program which currently has 52 children enrolled.
The monthly contribution given by sponsors goes directly towards providing a continuing education for their sponsor child. This includes covering the cost of teachers, providing meals, school supplies and new uniforms. Ruben’s Shoes plans on expanding its school in the Dominican Republic so they can open classes for secondary aged children and allow more children into the sponsorship program.
“We believe education is the key to change. At Ruben’s Shoes we don’t just want to provide handouts and walk away, we want to empower these children and help break the cycle of poverty. Every year that a child is in school increases their income earning potential by 10%. Receiving an education will provide impoverished children with the opportunity to change their future along with the future for their families, their community and ultimately their country,” Brenda Nijjer, Director.