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East Texas children use recycled items to help make shoes

Posted April 18

— Sixty-six pairs of shoes made of recycled materials will be donated to children in Africa thanks to Jamie Mahan's class at Lufkin's Dunbar Primary School.

The Lufkin News (http://bit.ly/2oiuU7F ) reports students traced out pieces from jeans and recycled materials to be sent to Sole Hope, a nonprofit that turns the materials into shoes to protect children in Uganda from contracting jiggers through their feet.

Jiggers are parasitic insects that enter under a person's toes and in the webbing of feet, where they lay eggs. The eggs continue to multiply until the child can no longer walk. Shoes help protect children from the bugs.

Mahan said her class has been learning about reducing, reusing and recycling.

"We went on a learning journey where we went to the county landfill, the recycling plant and wastewater treatment plant so kids can see why we don't want things going into the landfill," Mahan said. "We are running out of room."

Second-grader Wesley Bennett said he was surprised to learn how much garbage goes to the county landfill.

"Almost 1 million pounds of trash goes into our landfill every day," Wesley said. "How will that affect my kids' kids' kids' babies?"

Mahan's class wanted to use recycled goods to help others, she said, "So on Valentine's Day, instead of it being about ourselves, we wanted to share love with someone else, and we decided to share love all the way to Africa for kids who really need these shoes."

Students and friends brought recycled jeans and food cartons and cut out the shapes needed to make shoes. They also cut plastic pieces out of milk, orange juice and tea cartons that will be put in the heels of the shoes.

Lynda Langston, who visited the class on April 10 to tell the kids how many shoes they had made possible, said each shoe bag has 12 different denim pieces.

"So we cut out 792 pieces," she said, congratulating the students on their hard work.

"It was hard to cut out the cartons, but I liked doing it," first-grader Brylie Hunt said. "I hope they like their shoes."

Students also brought rubber gloves, pins and other first aid items to send with the shoes.

"I brought lots of stuff like gauze and Band-Aids and stickers to make the kids feel better when their feet get poked at the hospital," second-grader Abe Ramsey said. "I can't imagine not having a pair of shoes. I have some; why can't other kids have some, too?"

He wondered aloud what it would be like not to have a single pair of shoes.

"It would probably hurt, because on the playground, walking on the wood chips would hurt," Abe said. "I feel lucky to have shoes now, and I think they will feel super excited to get them. I feel happy that I can help them."

He said he felt inspired to use recycled materials when he grows up.

"I want to be an electrical engineer, and I'll try using recycled materials to do it — maybe get the plastic from milk cartons and things like that," Abe said. "I hope others will use more recycled materials, too."

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