Dominick Cosper, of Anniston, was inspired while watching the Disney Channel. He saw a commercial that told the story of a young girl who collected shoes and sent them to children in Thailand. Cosper loved the idea so much that he asked all his friends to bring new and used shoes to his ninth birthday party Sept. 16.
When Cosper told his mother, Derrika McRath, about the plan several months before his party, she thought it was sweet, but figured his excitement would eventually fade. Now, Cosper has so many shoes to donate that he’s trying to save his own money to ship them all.
“We asked all the kids to put $2 in the shoes to pay for the cost of shipping. Some kids brought several pairs of shoes and didn’t include more money,” said McRath. “We ended up with 52 pairs of shoes and only raised $16 to send them.”
Cosper already had a destination in mind for the shoes.
“I wanted to send the shoes to Africa,” Cosper said.
So with dozens of shoes taking up space in her home and car, McRath found a charity in Ghana that would appreciate the footwear.
The Aba House, in the village of Nungua, was founded by Boston resident Ellie Schimelman after her first trip to Ghana in 1978. Aba House was created as a place to teach the local children about art and craftsmanship.
“I’m trying to teach these kids how to be creative, they don’t really get that at school. You listen to the teacher and repeat back, you’re not encouraged to ask questions,” explained Schimelman.
Schimelman said the main mission of her nonprofit is to introduce different cultures through the arts. She taught the Ghanaian children how to make paper out of sugar cane. Another visitor taught them how to make book bindings, thereby giving them the skill to create their own notebooks and diaries which they sell to afford school supplies. Schimelman feels the most valuable tool she teaches these children is a work ethic.
Schimelman frequently has fundraisers to raise money to help further the children’s education. Donations of clothes and shoes often arrive at the Aba House but Schimelman has never had someone donate something like this in bulk.
“I just think it’s a wonderful story that a young kid would even want to take the energy to do this,” Schimelman said.
Cosper is hoping to send the shoes to Boston Friday and from there Schimelman will send them to Ghana. He said he would like to do this again for his next birthday.
Star staff writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.