Ridgeview Middle School students, staff and community have challenged themselves to donate 7,500 pairs of shoes to undeveloped nations through the Funds2Orgs organization.

The shoe drive started in late March and as of May 10, 5,440 pairs of shoes have been donated. The endeavor is led by Jill Strode, Ridgeview PTA President.

“This is definitely a team effort,” Strode said. “We have utilized social media to help communicate our goals, explain how we are helping others and to communicate our efforts as we move along with this drive.”

The shoes collected will help create micro-enterprises in under-developing countries around the world and the shoes will be worn by children and adults who may not have shoes of their own.

During International Day on April 5, Ridgeview had guest speaker Gilbert Tuhabonye share his story with students. Tuhabonye grew up in Songa, Burundi, a small country in Africa, where most of his community did not have shoes. He wanted students to know how different growing up there is to Round Rock.

“At Ridgeview, high academic expectations are a given, but we also focus on teaching the whole-child and honing talents,” Ridgeview Principal Travis Mutscher said. “Students are given opportunities to participate and seek leadership roles in community building and service to others. At the end of the day, I feel great satisfaction in knowing that our students are becoming caring citizens who serve our Ridgeview community, Round Rock, and the global community as well. I couldn’t be more proud of our school.”

Jennifer Porter, Ridgeview seventh-grade English Language Arts and Talented and Gifted teacher, inspired other students and teachers to use social media to bring awareness to the shoe drive.

“I wanted to set a positive example of service for my students and help motivate them to participate in the shoe drive,” Porter said. “I sent out a message on my neighborhood’s Home Owner’s Association Facebook page explaining the shoe drive and over the course of two weekends, I was able to collect well over 200 pairs of shoes.”

Strode set May 19 as the goal to raise 7,500 pairs of shoes so the students can celebrate their success with an outdoor picnic lunch before the end of the school year. However, individuals can continue to donate their new or gently used shoes at Ridgeview through June 20.