The district recently won the first “15 Days of Kindness” nationwide challenge among 21,000 youth in the United States to inspire their communities to donate shoes for children in need.
With the help of nine high schools, several elementary schools and more than 50 local businesses, the WCSD brought in 55,000 pairs of shoes in less than 30 days, according to Think Kindness spokesman Brian Williams.
“I think once students realize they can make a difference, their eyes open up, especially when doing something so simple as donating a pair of shoes,” Williams said.
In the district, the leadership students at high schools including Truckee Meadows Community College, Reno, Galena, Hug, Wooster, Reed, Spanish Springs and Washoe, Depoali Middle School and classrooms from various elementary schools held their own campaigns to inspire the community to donate used shoes to benefit other countries. The 15 Days of Kindness campaign encouraged students to perform random acts of kindness as simple as opening a door for a fellow student or high-fiving each other. Other schools offered root beer floats in exchange for a pair of shoes.
Of the 55,000 shoes collected, more than 2,000 have been given out to families in Washoe County. Other shoes will be going to Kenya, Nigeria, Cambodia and Japan.
Dylan Schindler, a senior at TMCC High, helped organize the effort on his campus, which produced 588 pairs of shoes.
“I never thought we’d get that much for Think Kindness,” Schindler said. “That was a great success.”
Originally, the campaign was born in WCSD in May 2010 when Superintendent Heath Morrison, staff and students challenged a school district in Maryland to donate as many shoes as possible for Soles4Souls.
Districts from Illinois, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Nebraska caught the fever this year and joined in the challenge. Students organized and held their campaigns from January to April, with WCSD’s collection taking place in mid-March through April.
More than 50 businesses and nonprofit groups in the Reno-Sparks area also made the shoe collection a success, including the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, UPS, the Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows and Gold’s Gym.
A video showing the efforts of students in Washoe County and other school districts can be found at http://vimeo.com/23624641.
“It just shows that the leadership of principals, teachers, counselors and students made this happen,” said Katherine Loudon, coordinator of counseling for WCSD’s Safe and Drug Free Schools program. “It promoted a positive school climate and culture in our schools and empowered our students to make a local and global difference.”