The Gloucester County Police Academy Basic Class #53 responded to a call for gently worn, used and new shoes on Friday, Nov. 2, delivering 110 pairs of footwear to support the Volunteer Center of South Jersey's Shoe Drive fundraiser.
"We are glad that the Police Academy reached out to the Volunteer Center. Their donation will support local nonprofits and our own upcoming events, in addition to helping connect volunteers with local nonprofits," said Volunteer Center Account Manager & Program Coordinator Samantha Enz. "The collected shoes are used to support micro-enterprises in developing nations, like Honduras and Haiti. The small businesses are typically operated by one person or family and friends."
Kendall Washington, president of Class #53, saw the flyer advertising the shoe drive posted on the bulletin board and took the idea to her fellow officers. The original goal was to collect 53 pairs of shoes, but the enthusiastic recruits rounded up twice that amount after reaching out to instructors, family and friends.
"We came together as a group. We all decided to become police officers for different reasons and giving back to the community is what we are here to do," stated Class Leader David Byerley. "This event provides the opportunity to give to those who need it." Recruit Will Rodriguez agreed. "As a police officer, one of our main goals is to give back to the community. Academy recruits like to give back as a class."
"It is an honor to be able to help others who are less fortunate and put unused shoes to good use. In third world countries, some of the children are running around barefoot," noted recruit Robert Belcher. "You don't always realize the difference something small, like a pair of shoes, can make in someone's life. It's our way of helping others who need the help," added recruit Shadi Zaiton.
"Sharing is caring, and this was a good way for the Gloucester County Police Academy Class #53 to embrace the opportunity to give back," said Washington.
"I am extremely proud of our recruits. They truly embrace the opportunity to make a positive difference," stated Sergeant Christopher Leadbeater, lead instructor for Police Academy Basic Class #53.
For more information about the Gloucester County Police Academy, visit RCGC.edu/PoliceAcademy.
The Volunteer Center of South Jersey's mission is to change lives, empower families and improve the community through volunteerism and the support of local nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit sjvolunteers.org.