A heartwarming initiative created by Birkenhead College students which involves Aucklanders donating their second-hand shoes has unexpectedly taken off.
Year 13 students Murray Gannaway, William Hawkins, Thomas Hassell and Konna Lundon came up with the charity for an assessment as part of the Lion Foundation's Young Enterprise group scheme.
Their initiative involves getting Aucklanders to donate their old or unwanted shoes which the teens will then refurbish before dropping them off at lower decile schools including Birkdale, Beach Haven and Birkdale North primary schools.
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The group, who have been mentored by their business teacher Ryan Moore, have also created a GiveALittle page, with all proceeds either going towards refurbishment products, such as shoelaces and polish, or buying in-need students brand new shoes.
The page has raised at least $1000 so far.
Speaking to the Herald, the students revealed what inspired them to create the initiative.
"The idea originally came to me last winter when I was walking up to school and I noticed there was a bunch of kids who go to the local primary school near us walking in bare feet," Gannaway said.
"It drew my attention instantly because there are a few low-decile schools around in our area ... so I thought we could do our part in the community to try and help these schools out.
"Clothing, in general, is pretty expensive and that's why we wanted to take one of the costs away for this upcoming winter."
The students then got to work coming up with a dropbox system and getting the word out on community pages and school newsletters.
Hawkins explained that those wanting to donate shoes can drop them off at the Birkenhead College reception.
They have also contacted the lower-decile schools in their area to set up dropbox points.
Hawkins also said they are trying to set up dropboxes at the Birkenhead and Birkdale community centres and the local public libraries.
Those who can't make it out to those areas can contact the group through their Facebook page Reused Shoes For You and they are even willing to do pickups in their area.
After the shoes are refurbished, the students said they will return them to the schools.
"Obviously we don't know which children are in need at the schools so we are going to let the schools decide and give them to the students," Hassell said.
After their charity kicked off, the teens said they weren't expecting to get this much attention and publicity.
"It just shows how great our community is. None of us expected anything more than $100 in donations. It's exceeded anything that we need to get this business running. It's just way out of our expectation." Gannaway said.
"One thing we have learned post-Covid is how we all have to help each other out whether it be the small businesses or communities."
The group revealed they have been contacted by high-end contacts offering to partner with them and help them out.
"Obviously we are going to take their advice, their marketing techniques and things that will help us get this business going," Gannaway said.
The students are hoping one day it could become a New Zealand wide initiative, where local communities help those in need.
"I'm sure there are places all over New Zealand that have issues with students going to school with bare feet," Hawkins said.
Lundon, who said he was one of the students who walked to school without shoes, added that he hoped the initiative would one day expand to involve other second-hand clothing items.
Gannaway chimed in saying that they have been offered other items but at this point want to only focus on shoes as they are not ready to take that step yet.