“Where are my shoes?” This familiar cry is heard in homes throughout Central Virginia. For the past few weeks; however, students at North Branch have been asking this question to make sure they remembered to bring gently used shoes and socks to school as part of a Shoe Drive for school children in Afghanistan. During a school-wide assembly, 5th grade student, Jay Rothenberger, asked his classmates, classmates of his sister Mason, age 6, and any other school family interested, to help his church collect shoes and socks for children in Kabul. St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Scottsville had learned of the need through parishioner, Cathy Russo.
While serving in Afghanistan, her son, Lt. Matt Russo, visited an elementary school in Kabul. Lt. Russo found a school with no heat, broken windows, and a playground consisting of two swing sets but no swings. The children were wearing sandals although the temperature was below freezing. In correspondence with his mother, Lt. Russo, said, “These children who have so little in a war torn country are so anxious to come to school and educate themselves as a way out of war and poverty. Anything we can do will be greatly appreciated.”
Jay, Mason, and their friends and classmates collected approximately 60 pairs of shoes and boots and over 30 pairs of socks to send with the collection from St. Anne’s Church to the children in Kabul. “I wanted to let people at my school know so we could get more socks and shoes for the kids in Afghanistan,” said Jay, age 11. “They have to walk to school in sandals when it is 20 degrees outside.”
Fifth and sixth grade North Branch teacher, Michael Donegan, used the stories and pictures of the students in Kabul to further his students’ study of Afghanistan and surrounding countries. His North Branch class was surprised to learn that only 1 out of every 5 girls attend school in Afghanistan and that Afghan teachers make approximately $38 a month.