Local News

April 20, 2013

Oskaloosa Rotary Club sends shoes to South Africa

OSKALOOSA — The Oskaloosa Rotary Club puts service above self by volunteering to support people in need both in Oskaloosa and internationally. 

The 2013 Rotary District Governor challenged each local club to contribute at least one pair of shoes per member to send to South Africa. The Oskaloosa Rotary Club contributed 180 shoes to the effort, an average of three pair of shoes per local member.

“We couldn’t have done it without the help of Morgane Cloesen, our Rotary Exchange Student. Morgane solicited donations through cans at local businesses and selling home-made Belgian waffles and truffles,” Club President Doug Mills said. “And, we were very fortunate Wal-Mart in Oskaloosa and Ottumwa supported our project as well.”

The shoes were delivered to the Rotary District 6000 Convention by Cloesen and Rotarian Beth Danowsky last weekend. The shoes now will be shipped to South Africa with a total of 3,242 pairs of shoes and $7451 in cash donations to purchase shoes provided by Iowa Rotary Clubs.

Dr. Jim Blessman, a Des Moines Rotarian who founded Blessman Ministries and has a home in South Africa, and Manny Ohonme, CEO of Samaritans Feet, attended the conference and will deliver the shoes to villages in South Africa.

During the presentation of shoes, Ohonme, shared a story about how he received his first pair of shoes at age 9 in South Africa while he was selling water in a public park. The shoes made him feel like a millionaire.

“It was a life altering experience,” he said. 

That pair of shoes led to discovery of Ohonme’s own basketball skill being discovered and an opportunity to play collegiate basketball in North Dakota.

“It is exciting for our Rotary Club to take part in a project that required a little effort on the part of each member, but will make a big difference in the well-being of people in South Africa,” said Mills. “When the shoes are presented, Samaritan’s Feet takes time to wash the feet of individuals receiving the shoes and spends time talking with them about who they are and what their interests are,” said Mills. “Hopefully these shoes from our community will make a difference in their lives.”

For more information about the Oskaloosa Rotary Club, go to www.oskaloosarotary.org or contact Doug Mills at (641) 673-3187.


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