Tammy Boschee’s student government class at Lodi High School was busy matching and counting shoes, then packing them and loading them onto a U-Haul truck as a 15-day collection challenge came to an end on the morning of Nov. 19.
Boschee’s class, with the help of Gary Joe Alexander of Think Kindness, challenged their fellow Flames on Nov. 5 to collect 2,500 pairs of shoes and 2,000 jackets for the less fortunate around the world.
Although only 1,373 pairs of shoes had been collected by Nov. 19, Megan Woods, the Lodi High School senior in Boschee’s class who managed the 15-day challenge project, said she wasn’t disappointed with the final result. She said if the challenge had not included coat collection, the campaign might have reached its 2,500 goal.
“Shoes and coats were a lot to ask for,” she said. “Gary only asked for shoes, and we wanted to do something different. But a lot of people participated and it was a lot of fun to try to reach our goal.”
Woods and her student government class began final collections on campus and at a few designated drop-off points around town, such as Juice it Up and House of Coffees, on the afternoon of Nov. 18. She said the class was not able to count the coats collected before Xavier returned to Lodi High School to pick up the donations.
Lodi High School students were competing against 60,000 students around the country over the 15-day period to be designated “the kindest school in America.”
When the student body was challenged at the Nov. 5 assembly, Xavier said that more than 300 million people live each day without shoes, jackets and other pieces of clothing many take for granted.
Xavier said that while the school’s goal wasn’t met, the most important thing about the 15-day challenge was the teamwork Boschee’s class displayed trying to make a difference.
“The entire student government class came together to do this and established drop-off points all around the school and community 15 days ago,” he said. “And they really got inundated with coats and shoes. They even got other items, like hats and shirts, that weren’t asked for.”
Woods said she would find full boxes of donations on a daily basis at House of Coffees, and Boschee said her class had been meeting twice a day to match shoes and tie them together as they were collected from every classroom on campus and the community drop-off points.
Boschee added the class even canvassed a nearby neighborhood of 1,084 homes when the challenge began, knocking on every door and handing out fliers to spread the word about their campaign.
“It was unbelievable to watch (the class) come together to do this,” she said. “We kind of got overwhelmed at first, but the kids came up with their own system to organize everything and they got it done. This was a huge task.”
As donations were collected, the class kept the shoes and jackets in Boschee’s storage room next to the classroom. Xavier will be taking some of the shoes and jackets to Think Kindness, a nonprofit organization that inspires acts of kindness in schools and communities throughout the world, for distribution around the world.
Woods will take the rest to the Salvation Army on Lockeford Street with classmates on Dec. 14.
This was the first year Boschee’s class had taken on a project of this size, and both she and Woods said they would do it again if given the opportunity.
“I would definitely do this again,” Woods said. “It was fun, although I was a bit overwhelmed. It’s been a stressful last few days, but I’m proud of the Lodi community.”