It all started with an article in a tennis magazine.
“We saw that article and I made the comment to McClain, ‘Well why couldn’t we collect the shoes and give them to people that needed them?’ versus giving them to a large company that was going to make money off of them,” Matt said.
An enthusiastic McClain embraced the idea and started “Shoes for the Souls,” a project to collect gently used footwear for the Atlanta Mission, a charitable organization that provides emergency shelter, employment assistance and other help to hundreds of Atlanta area homeless people each day.
That first year, McClain collected 360 pairs of shoes for the Atlanta Mission. In 2010, she collected 1,598 pairs. This year, her goals are even higher.
“This year, our goal is to collect 2,000 [pairs of shoes] and if we reach that goal, that will be great,” McClain said.
McClain is already well on her way to reaching that goal, having already collected hundreds of pairs of shoes. According to McClain, helping those in need is important for several reasons.
“It’s important to me to help the community and just to make them feel good and make me feel good that I’m giving back and that they’ll actually receive something that they need,” McClain said.
Matt is fully supportive of McClain’s efforts and is clearly proud of what his daughter has accomplished to date.
“McClain’s accomplishments are just amazing,” Matt said. “Both Carmen (McClain’s mother) and I are just so proud of her and what she’s doing both for herself and for the community. She is a special little girl and she is wanting to give back to the community that has helped her so much and helped our family so much.”
McClain’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. The fifth-grader was recently awarded a “ for her volunteer work. McClain was one of 200 recipients chosen from more than 37,000 nominees nationwide for making a positive impact on her community.
Her advice for other young people seeking to make a difference in their communities:
“Do what your heart tells you to do,” she said.
If you would like to donate to Shoes for the Souls, contact Matt Hermes at 770-402-2819 or by email at Matt@MattHermes.com.