One friendship brings a smile to many orphans

Shoesâ?¦ a possession we use every single day without even realizing its importance.

But to those who have never owned a pair in their life, they mean everything.

â??When we give them a pair of shoes we tell them these are your shoes, they belong to you and theyâ??re a gift for you and so that alone gets me up and keeps me going every day to continue to do this work,â?? said Scott Collins, VP at Buckner International.

Buckner Internationalâ??s Shoes for Orphan Souls, has made it their mission to deliver shoes to the needy.

This organization provides new shoes to the worldâ??s one-hundred and fifty three million orphans.

Since their establishment in 1999, they have delivered more than 2.75 million pairs of shoes to children in 76 countries.

â??The thoughts of how many children, orphan children, internationally, that we are going to be able to help with a small gift that makes a big differenceâ?¦a new pair of shoes,â?? said Larry Lunsford, Local Rotary District Governor.

And to help increase the aid to orphans, they have teamed up with the local rotary district 6040.

The relationship between the two began decades ago through the bond of two Macon boys: Larry Lunsford and Scott Collins.

â??Itâ??s so pleasing that two guys that grew up together in Macon, Missouri have been able to help so many children around the world through the help of Rotarians,â?? said Lunsford. â??And here we are, thirteen years later.â??

Larry became the local rotary district governor and Scott moved to Texas where he works with Buckner international and shoes for orphan souls.

This past weekend local rotary clubs came together to fill an entire ups trailer with the shoes they have collected.

Missouri Rotarians contributed close to twenty thousand shoes on Saturday, bringing their overall total to nearly two-hundred and sixty thousand shoes.

â??When you have the opportunity to meet a child, sit in front of the child, have a new pair of shoes waiting for their feet, where theyâ??re wearing no socks, dirty worn shoes and to create that moment where all your effort, all your planning, all your cheerleading, all your buyingâ?¦in a matter of thirty seconds, provides that gift to a child, shows them the love that you care about them. It is a great example of service,â?? said Lunsford.

Not only is this service rewarding to the orphans, but rotary club members say they are the ones receiving the biggest reward.

Physically connecting and helping children all across the world with such a simple gift, helps them appreciate the things that are so often, taken for granted.

Every year, Larry and Scott return to their hometown to lead the shoe drive that has left footprints on their hearts for the past 13 years.

â??Who we are and why we do this sort of thing is really shaped by the people who raised us and taught us these kinds of values and so I think again itâ??s very real but itâ??s also symbolic that weâ??re here in Macon, a place that I think just means a lot to us,â?? said Collins.

A friendship that started in Macon, Mo. and has brought a smile to orphans all over the world.

If you would like to get involved in this service you can make a donation on their


or you can drop new shoes off at any of the following Rotary Clubs:


Kirksville North Star

Scotland County


Kirksville Thousand Hills



Schuyler County

Knox County

Macon County