By Frank Shelton
For the Mountain Advocate
Most kids have their sights on new toys and electronics for their birthday, but two Knox County students had bigger dreams for their 12th celebration.
Faith and Hope McKeehan, sixth grade students at Jesse D. Lay Elementary School, set out to collect shoes for their peers in an organized shoe drive that they called #secondblessings.
The twin girls, who celebrated their birthday on Jan.16, sent a challenge to their friends to get the shoe drive started. If they received at least 40 pairs of shoes at their birthday party, then two girls and two boys would get to put a pie in their face. With a total of 51 shoes being collected in the single event, the girls were all smiles as they received both pies and the start of many donations towards their cause.
“I wanted to help my community and not just receive a gift for my birthday,” said Faith. “Hope and I thought about blankets, food, or shoes for the drive. We spoke to Rita Wood (Family Resource Center in Knox County), and decided on a gently-used shoe drive.”
Knox County’s family resource centers hand out an average of 100 pairs of shoes and flip-flops each year to students for a variety of reasons. Faith recalls the feeling of having to visit the resource center well.
“Once I had to go to the resource center to get a pair of flip-flops because mine had broke.”
The amount of shoes donated quickly multiplied in the weeks that followed their birthday, as the girls used the hashtag #secondblessings, to advertise on social media and in schools around the district.
“My sister and I can share shoes, but a lot of siblings cannot,” said Hope.
“Helping others is something I want to try and do more of. I may not be rich, but I can help do a little in my community.”
A little work by the girls resulted in over 750 pairs of shoes being donated, with donations coming from as far away as Georgetown and Bowling Green from former Knox County residents.
After sorting the shoes by size, the next step for the girls is to get them in the hands (and on the feet) of who needs them – their peers. In the upcoming days, resource center directors from around Knox County will be invited to the Board of Education Annex to browse through the shoes and get the sizes that they need most frequently for their school.
“We want to thank our friends and our community for making our birthday and the shoe drive so successful,” echoed the girls. Faith and Hop are the daughters of Joy and Steve McKeehan of Cannon.