TAMPA – Shoes cover Samuel Russell and his family’s living room in Tarawood.
And believe it or not, the 17-year-old Hillsborough High School International Baccalaureate senior wants even more. But not for himself – these shoes are for those in need.
Russell’s service project, Shoes for Souls, aims to collect at least 500 pairs of shoes for donation to local social services agencies.
“I wanted to do this as it was my last chance to do something really important for my community,” said Russell, who plans to attend college out of state after graduation.
“And a lot of people have extra shoes they don’t wear,” he said, adding many children and adults are in need of shoes.
Russell said he will take dress shoes, tennis shoes, sandals or boots for men, women and children. They will be given to The Spring for battered spouses; Joshua House for abused children; and Metropolitan Ministries, which assists all.
Russell recruited his sister, Mindy, 15, to make flyers about the project, and his brother, Jonathan, 12, to assist in distributing then in northwest Hillsborough County.
One of those flyers landed on the Lake Magdalene front door of Sandi Harkness, president of the Hillsborough High School Alumni Association.
She offered the association’s help by including the information in the group’s newsletter and collecting shoes at the alumni table at the school’s recent open house.
“When I saw Hillsborough IB, it was something that I knew I had to follow up on,” Harkness said.
Russell, an Eagle Scout, participates in math contests and computer programming. He is looking toward a career in engineering or politics.
New or almost-new shoes can be dropped off at Hillsborough High School, 5000 Central Ave., or at 13606 Wilkes Drive in Tarawood. For information, call (813) 969-2210 or email to [email protected]