Local children collect shoes for Iraqi children

Gavin Byars of Cape Girardeau drops off shoes for children in Iraq
Gavin Byars of Cape Girardeau drops off shoes for children in Iraq
Local children collect shoes for Iraqi children
By: CJ Cassidy
Cape Girardeau, Mo. - You've heard of neighbors helping neighbors - now some folks in Cape Girardeau try reaching out to residents of Iraq. The plan - sending shoes to children in the war-torn country.
A Naval Officer from Cape stationed in Baghdad, told his wife about the Iraqi children's need for shoes, clothes and school supplies. The idea spread - and now some elementary school kids step in on the action.
Gavin Byars knows how to get what he wants. "I say 'Mom can I have some shoes?'" he explains, smiling. Now the 7-year-old and his schoolmates like Maya Kelch learn about sharing. "They want gently used shoes for the children of Iraq," Maya reads the description off the side of the collection box. "I really feel sorry for them. It's not really their fault this is happening," the ten year old adds.
The shoes Gavin and other folks drop off will get sent to Iraq. That's where Lt. Cmdr. Clint Tracy of Cape Girardeau is stationed.
On the phone in Baghdad, Tracy tells me he's overwhelmed by the support and goodwill; especially from the kids.  "Used shoes are probably better. Kids that young will probably outgrow the shoes before they wear them out, and we need clothes and school supplies as well. If the outpouring is as big as I think it is, we'll need help with the postage and getting things boxed up and sent over here too," he says.
"They're probably barefoot and don't have anything, and their homes might have been bombed up or something," Maya Kelch says sadly.
Now Maya and Gavin hope the spidey shoes, sneakers and sandals help put a smile on the faces of children like them, more than six thousand miles away in Iraq. "I hope the box will be filled with a lot of shoes maybe even overflowing so that a whole bunch of shoes can go to Iraq, and all the kids can have them," Maya says.
Alma Schrader School Principal Ruth Ann Orr is confident the shoe drive will not only teach kids about the importance of giving, but also educate them about what's going on in the world around us.
You can help out too. Anyone can drop off shoes in a box outside the Bloom store. It is located at 2119 Broadway in Cape Girardeau, and Alma Schrader students can bring donations to school.