• Proud to be from Pittsburgh: Mars Elementary shoe drive

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    There's reading, writing, and arithmetic, but students at Mars Elementary are learning another important lesson – kindness.

    Fourth-graders have spent the last two weeks collecting close to 3,000 pairs of shoes to donate to people in developing countries.

    "It just started with our school really focusing on random acts of kindness," teacher Jamie Waters said.

    She and fellow teacher Stephanie Graff helped organize the shoe drive to show students how a simple act of kindness can have a global impact.

    "They really just took it and ran with it," Graff said.

    The school partnered with Funds2Orgs, a Florida-based company that buys used shoes for microentrepreneurs to sell in their home countries.

    "We so easily just throw on a pair of shoes," Waters said, "and people in other nations, they so easily don't have a pair of shoes."

    For every 2,500 pairs of shoes collected, Mars Elementary will receive a check for $1,000. But, these students aren't interested in the money.


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    "We thought, 'Yeah, we can buy a couple iPads for the school. We could do some things for the school,'" Graff said. "Or, we can continue our act of kindness and donate the money to a local charity."

    While teachers initially thought they'd end up with a few hundred pairs of shoes, students collected close to 3,000 -- each one inspected, cleaned and bagged by hand.

    "Sometimes, school -- it's not all academics," Waters said. "It's building character too, and these kids are definitely great examples of just kindhearted kids who want to continue that chain reaction of good deeds."

    Graff and Waters haven't decided which charity they'll donate to but said it will likely be one that benefits local children.
     


     

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