Seven-year-old collects shoes for needy

Published 11:34 am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Loren Keech, 7, and her sister, Ashlyn, 2, look over some of the 233 pairs of shoes that were donated to the Get Sole Project. - SUBMITTED

FRANKLIN—When Loren Keech offered to sacrifice birthday presents to help the needy, her mother, Kaci, wasn’t sure she was serious.

Turns out Loren was quite serious.

For her 7th birthday party on Saturday, Loren asked for no gifts, just shoes. She collected 233 pairs for the Got Sole Project, a non-profit that gives gently worn shoes to poor families in Hampton Roads and on the Eastern Shore. Her goal was to collect 100.

Most shoes were donated before the swimming party at the James L. Camp Jr. YMCA. Partygoers brought 44 pairs. And Loren used her birthday money to buy more shoes.

“I am so proud that I have collected so many shoes,” the Riverdale Elementary School first-grader said.

“We are hoping to go one of the distribution trips when they do another one,” added Kaci Keech, a fifth-grade teacher at Riverdale. “The last I heard, they didn’t have any shoes because they sent everything they had to Hurricane Sandy victims.”

Loren, who is also the daughter of Travis Keech, got the idea from a TV commercial on the Disney Channel.

“She saw it back in September and said she wanted to do that — a girl collected shoes for her birthday that went to Honduras,” Kaci Keech said. “She just kept mentioning it.”

When December rolled around and birthday party planning kicked in to high gear, Loren reminded her mom about the shoes.

“She was really stuck on this idea,” Kaci Keech said. “I just encouraged her.”

Loren solicited for shoes ahead of time on Facebook.

“We got a huge response,” said her mother, noting people dropped them off at the daily at Riverdale.

Members of Grace Memorial United Methodist Church in Sedley also joined in.

Maintaining an accurate count was challenging.

“Every time we count, someone else drops off a bag,” she said.