Transfer students at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith are answering the call to help children in the local children’s emergency shelter, according to Kelly Mabery of Greenwood, staff adviser for the Transfer Student Organization.
Brett Manning of Harrison is the leader of “Shoes-4-A-Cause.” It’s a project of TSO in which the group collects shoes from the public for youths who have been placed in the Children’s Emergency Shelter.
“Children have a right to a childhood wrapped up in safety, love and joy,” said Manning. “And when they’re denied that, we want to help them in any way we can. We start with shoes because they’re the basics.”
Manning said kids of all ages, through no fault of their own, end up in the shelter. They need shoes of all sizes and styles because the kids show up without anything to wear besides the clothes on their backs. Sometimes, they don’t even have shoes on their feet.
Manning explained the importance of the project.
“Imagine you’re a little boy or girl and something at home went wrong with your parents,” Manning said. “All of a sudden, you’re in a shelter and you don’t have a thing to wear to school tomorrow. When that morning bell rings, you’d feel a lot better if you were dressed well. We want some nice looking shoes, new or nearly new, that you’d be proud to wear to school, so that we can help these kids,”
Collection boxes have been placed around campus for the drive which will end Nov. 30, according to Manning. He said the drive needs sneakers, flip-flops, running shoes, slippers and rain wear for children who are six to 17 years old.
TSO collected more than 200 pairs of shoes for the Children's Emergency Shelter during the 2011 drive.
Jack Moffett, executive director of the Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter, emphasized the need.
“It’s hard for most people to imagine how they would handle the situations our kids have to deal with,” Moffett said. “That’s why I think we need to do everything possible to help them face their world with a brave face and clothes that fit and look good. That’s why I’m so grateful for this ‘Shoes-4-A-Cause’ drive that will collect new and nearly-new shoes.”
TSO adviser Mabery explained that the organization is a place where transfer students can come together to receive and give support to one another, their campus and community. Some TSO members may choose to become mentors for future transfer students, while others may choose to help Mabery with her efforts to recruit students to UAFS. The TSO also has the Transition Buddy program, which assists incoming transfer students in locating their classes for the first time. TSO also hosts another service event in the spring to benefit the Children's Emergency Shelter.
"All in all, the Transfer Student Organization is comprised of students who are dedicated to easing another's transition from 'transfer student' to 'UAFS Lion,'" said Mabery. This is the group's third year as a UAFS student organization.
For more information, contact Mabery at 479-788-7106.