By Samantha Trezevant

COVID-19 has affected everyone on many different levels. For students at Valrico Academy, many of their annual events have been put on hold for the year, and the parents searched for a creative way to fund these activities. The result is the school’s PTSO collecting shoes for an organization that will help fund desired activities for the students.

On March 10, Valrico Academy had a ‘Stuff the Trunk’ shoe drive. At the event, people from all over the community chipped in to donate gently worn shoes. There were a total of nine bags donated, which was equivalent to 225 pairs of shoes. In other words, the event was a success.

The charter school’s PTSO acquired almost half of its goal before the event. The goal is to get to 100 bags which is equivalent to 2,500 shoes, in a 60-day period.

The Valrico Academy PTSO is partnering with Funds2Orgs, which will issue a check based on the total weight of the pairs of gently worn, used and new shoes collected. All donated shoes will then be redistributed throughout the Funds2Orgs network of micro-enterprise (small business) partners. Funds2Orgs works with micro-entrepreneurs in helping them create, maintain and grow small businesses in developing countries where economic opportunities and jobs are limited.

In the past, this organization has been able to help feed, clothe and house families in need. The fundraisers that are associated with Funds2Orgs help many families—so many that one budding entrepreneur in Haiti even earned enough to send her son to law school.

The PTSO had acquired almost half of its goal before the event. As of March 9, almost half of the school’s goal was reached, which was 40 bags that equaled 1,000 pairs of shoes.

If you would like to help the cause, there are many locations where you can donate your gently worn shoes. These are Valrico Academy, AR Workshop in Brandon, SouthShore Orthodontics in Gibsonton, The Village Early Learning Center in Brandon, Hess Orthodontics (all three locations), Bullfrog Creek Brewing Co. in Valrico and L Space Studio in Brandon.

Each of these locations is collecting until Friday, April 9.

“We are excited about our shoe drive,” said Jennifer Middleton, hospitality coordinator of the PTSO. “We know that most people have extra shoes in their closets they would like to donate to us. By doing so, we raise money for future events, and we have the chance to help families in developing nations who need economic opportunities. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

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