During a service trip to South Africa two summers ago, Morgan Baker noticed that the kids she would be working with either had no shoes or they were the wrong size.
“When I came back (to Atlanta), I realized that we had the same problem in our backyard,” said Baker, who started to volunteer with The Atlanta Mission’s women and children’s shelter, My Sister’s House. Noticing that people in the shelter were also in need of proper shoes, Baker decided to use her upbringing to serve a need in the local community.
With her mom owning a shoe store, Baker understood that once final sales have occurred at the store, the footwear that doesn’t sell takes up space. “That is when I got my inspiration for the Atlanta Shoe Bank,” she said. “I have been around shoe stores my whole life, and so it made sense to help those less fortunate … by asking stores to consider donating their last season inventory for a good cause.”
This February, the 17-year-old launched the Atlanta Shoe Bank and Baker decided to reach out the local and national big box stores to help the mission. She hopes to make the charity a shoe supplier for local shelters.
Her first attempt to collect inventory was a success when Sports Authority responded in a big way.
The Denver-based sports store called upon its Southeast distribution center in McDonough to get involved with the Atlanta Shoe Bank. Greg Charles, director of distribution, was particularly impressed by Baker’s initiative to help those in need. “I got a message from the head office about this donation, and it was great to be involved with this charity,” said Charles.
Sports Authority donated 100 pairs of shoes on June 9 to the Atlanta Shoe Bank, making them the first donors of the new charity and allowing Baker to kick off the mission.
Along with the donation and a continued partnership with companies such as Sports Authority, Baker is also looking to the community to donate gently-used shoes for men, women and children.
As she starts to collect donations and hopes to host a back-to-school event in August, she is taking what she saw in South Africa and volunteering to help the bigger picture in some way.
“I truly understand that just one person can make a huge difference in the community,” Baker said. “And I really hope to do so with the Atlanta Shoe Bank.”
In other news: An anonymous corporate donor gave 100 new bicycles to the Atlanta chapter of StandUp For Kids. The donation will benefit homeless children from select Fulton County High Schools in order to promote not only a healthy lifestyle, but also an alternative mode of transportation to get to work or school for the kids.
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Who’s doing good? Each Tuesday, we write about charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To suggest an event for us to cover, contact Devika Rao at doing.googAJC@gmail.com