What may seem like any other normal community service project, the shoe drive Plano West Rotary Club began in the beginning of August goes further by not just tackling one cause, but two.
Two causes – each one in two different parts of the world.
The club’s goal is to collect over 1,000 pounds of shoes. These shoes will be donated to underdeveloped countries where they will then be given to micro-enterprises/small businesses; efforts such as these help grow and promote the local economy in their communities, leading the way for more opportunities to become available for its residents in the future.
Plano West Rotary did not only want to help abroad, however. It wanted to help back home in Plano as well.
Around the year 1860, Andy Drake arrived in Plano from Louisiana as a slave hauling tree logs. He would later buy his freedom and become the first Black man to own land in Plano. His arrival and establishment marked the beginning of a black community in the once-rural city, and later in 1900, this same community would become the Douglass Community, named after Frederick Douglass, a leader in the abolitionist movement-located near Downtown Plano.
Today in 2020 the Douglass Community continues to stand, but it carries a poverty level twice the rate of Plano, and its median and per capita income is half its wealthy city, according to President of Plano West Rotary Club Alex Johnson.
With every pound of shoes received, a few cents are given back. The club will be investing the proceeds from the drive toward the creation of programs that will promote economic growth, such as job training and career workshops, in the Douglass Community.
“We are going to use the proceeds from the shoe drive to help the Douglass Community because the Douglass Community is the neighborhood of Plano that exhibits the lowest social economic conditions in the community, in addition to having the highest COVID-19 rates,” Johnson said. “The residents there are hardworking, giving, caring residents that are of the diverse and ethnicity that need help.”
The project at first was only going to be promoted locally until District 5810 Interact Governor and Plano Senior High School Interact President, Julia Lin, said, “This would make a great project for the whole district.”
Rotarians and their clubs all around Dallas-Fort Worth are now in with the initiative. The drive will last until Oct. 31, and anyone can sign up to donate shoes at bit.ly/rotaryshoedrive. You can also call 972-905-0293 and leave a message with your name, phone and city to find a closer drop-off.
“Plano West Rotary Club is open for business and we invite the community to serve with us,” Johnson said.