First sergeants support Shoes to Share program
By Airman 1st Class Steve Bauer , 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 05, 2009
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg's First Sergeant Association sorted through a vast amount of donated shoes here March 3 in support of the Shoes to Share program.
The shoes the first sergeants compiled for the Shoe to Share program will eventually be sent to villagers and students residing in the Hwange Region in Zimbabwe.
From Vandenberg, the next stop for the shoes is San Francisco, Calif., where they will be received in the next couple of weeks by Nadia Sbeih, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Services Center outreach coordinator.
This past fall, Ms. Sbeih visited the village of Hwange. A teacher from the village told her the thing they needed the most was shoes.
"It was heartbreaking to see so many people without shoes," said Ms. Sbeih. "Many of the villagers wore pieces of tire tread tied to their feet or went bare footed."
Ms. Sbeih's goal is to collect 1,000 pairs of shoes, so that every student in the village will have a pair. She contacted Margaret Viers, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron contractor and old family friend of Ms. Sbein, who quickly called upon the first sergeants to help.
Ms. Viers has been involved with community services in the past.
"I believe it is important to give back," said Ms. Viers. "I try to support at least one project like this a year."
Like Ms. Viers, the First Sergeants Association was enthusiastic about the program and manually sorted, boxed and prepared the shoes to be sent to Ms. Sbeih.
"As soon as we received the first e-mail requesting our support with this project, we knew we wanted to help out," said Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey James, the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant. "Just as soon as we heard about the program, we immediately sent out e-mails requesting donations from the local community, and the base openly welcomed our request."
Active duty servicemembers, civilians and local companies all contributed to the Shoe to Share project in support of the less fortunate.
"This project just goes to show that Vandenberg's local community is always willing to step up and support whenever there is a need," said Master Sgt. Glenn McAlister, the 30th Force Support Squadron first sergeant.
Once the shoes reach San Francisco, a local kayaking company there will pack them up for shipment. The company will store the shoes in kayaks for the trip to Zimbabwe.