Ever since I learned about Sole Hope through a post on a Girl Scout group, I’ve felt a tug to do something. And what was just a gentle nudge became a movement in our service unit.
Our loose group of Junior/Cadette/Senior troops in our county held our first “S’mores and Service” night during fall break. Nearly 30 girls came together to enjoy meeting other scouts their age, eat s’mores and help others a world away. The girls spent an evening cutting out patterns for denim shoes to help young children protect themselves in Africa.
The amazing part was it didn’t end with one night.
Thanks to some generous donations of coworkers, we had tubs of denim to use. And, even more amazing, troops from all over the country who heard about the project and wanted to participate.
I’m inspired by the fact that, to date, we have had more than 10 troops sign up to host a shoe-cutting night with their troop. I’m even more inspired by the fact that a Scout family in New Jersey reached out to me to find out how they, too, could help! There’s even talk about how we can extend this into our service unit’s World Thinking Day celebration.
What Is a Shoe Cutting Party?
A shoe cutting party is a ridiculously easy project that will make things better for children around the world. It can be scaled according to the size of your group, and other than bringing supplies to a meeting, it’s an easy service project and meeting to make happen.
At a Sole Hope shoe cutting party, your troop will be cutting out shoes for children in Uganda. These cutouts will be sent to Sole Hope, which works with Ugandan shoemakers to make shoes and distribute them.
Why is This Important?
Not having shoes means more than just stepping on rocks. In Uganda, there is a huge problem with bugs called jiggers, which dig into feet (kind of like ticks do), suck people’s blood, and multiply. Imagine being a kid, and all you want to do is go to school or play with friends, but it hurts to walk from these bites and the infections from it.
What Does My Troop Need?
- Sole Hope shoe cutting kit. I recommend going to their site and ordering a simple 10-person kit, as really, what you need is the master pattern. To save money, you can also split the costs with another troop.
- Old, clean jeans or denim fabric. (Hint: Ask around to friends or family, or visit garage sales or Goodwill.)
- Sharp scissors (school scissors work, but fabric scissors are better)
- Large safety pins
- Clean flexible plastic – think old school folders, milk jugs, soap bottles
- Gallon size Ziploc bags
- Optional: Adults can provide donations to offset the costs of making the shoes. Sole Hope estimates costs for shipping and construction as being $10 per pair. Those can be in checks to Sole Hope and included in an envelope.
How Do We Do This?
Inside the Sole Hope packet are patterns. You’ll cut out these out of old denim jeans. You’ll trace the pattern on the inside of the jeans fabric and cut around the outline (not on the line, because they need the full amount of fabric.) There is a great intro video on the Sole Hope Facebook page if you don’t have access to a DVD player.
You’ll also cut two heel patterns out of plastic (like old folders or clean milk jugs or 2-liters) and label them with the size of your shoe pattern, in our case, “Toddler 9.” ONLY write on the plastic pieces.
Please pin a PAIR of shoes together. This means that 12 pieces will be in 1 safety pin. There should be 4 “pizza hut” pieces, 4 “W’s”, 2 fabric heel patches, and 2 plastic heel patches. The order that you pin them together does not matter.
How Can Younger Scouts Help?
Sole Hope generally recommends this is a project for ages 11 and up because of the dexterity needed to cut some of the pieces. But younger scouts can help by:
- Cutting the jeans along the inseam to lay flat.
- Decorating the cut fabric with fabric markers.
- Organizing the pieces.
- Collecting other items needed for the medical team, including band-aids and ointment.
When You’re Done:
Package the pieces in sets of 10 and mail with any supplies you’d like to return directly to Sole Hope, 605 East Innes St. #3263, Salisbury, NC 28145.
Is There a Patch for That?
Yes! You can order special Sole Hope patches online at the SoleHope.org store.