Two Jackson County teens are helping children around the world, one foot at a time.

Christian Laced was created in 2016 by Gage Cobb and Ashlyn Donohew. In partnership with Soles4Souls, these two teens collect shoes and help distribute them to needy children all over the world.

Over 400 million children live in extreme poverty worldwide. Many of them have never even owned a pair of shoes.

Cobb and Donohew are very passionate about their cause. They have spoken to 4-H groups, churches, and meetings to raise awareness for their platform.

“Matthew 5:16 says, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ And they are doing just that,” Angela Donohew said. “They chase after God and have a heart for helping people.”

In 2016 Cobb and Donohew made their first trip with Soles4Souls to Honduras, taking almost 40,000 shoes with them. While there, they visited the small village of Olivos.

Upon arriving at the village, their group toured the SOUL-dier store and learned about how the micro-enterprise program works. On their tour they witnessed one of the workers, a woman, pass out. They later learned she had walked nine miles to the bus so she could be taken to work and upon return, would have to walk nine miles back home. She had not eaten in over a day and the lack of food had made her pass out. This was a very scary and real experience for the teens.

“It made me thankful for what I have,” Donohew said.

As they went out delivering shoes, they would also wash the children’s feet and size them.

“One little girl was so grateful, she tried to give me her puppy,” Cobb recalled.

“To some, giving up a family pet may seem odd, but to this little girl,it was all she had and she wanted to show Gage just how grateful she was,” Nicci Cobb said in tears.

In other countries having a pair of shoes is very important to a child’s well-being. Children are unable to attend school without shoes in Honduras and several other poverty stricken countries. Going to school is also important to the children because the schools provide them with the only meals some of them may receive.

During their stay, Cobb and Donohew helped deliver not only shoes, but food as well. Cobb and Donohew’s group provided enough food to supply 15 families with meals for a week. Foods included sausage, rice, beans, salt, sugar, flour, and other items needed for preparing meals.

Soles4Souls does more than provide shoes, they also create jobs. The shoes that are delivered need to be cleaned and recycled. The women of the village provide these services. They are hard working people and are not looking for a hand-out.

Cobb and Donohew are not stopping with Honduras. In March of 2019 they will be going to Guatemala to provide much needed assistance once again. This time they will be taking additional people to help.

“Soles4Souls only provides funding for the teens, the mothers and any additional crew pay their own way. It gets rather expensive, but is all well worth the financial cost,” Nicci cobb said.

As well as providing shoes for poverty stricken countries worldwide, Soles4Souls provides shoes for children in the United States who have been affected by flooding, fires, and other natural disasters.

Their final shoe drive for the year will be from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13. Cobb and Donohew will be collecting shoes at Hide-A-Way storage behind the Ripley Dairy Queen. Help will be needed to load the truck, to match, count, tie, and also to package shoes.

Cobb and Donohew have set a goal to collect 19,500 pairs of shoes for their Guatemala trip. Any and all shoes are acceptable. New, gently used, shoes in poor condition and even single shoes are appreciated. From tennis shoes and hiking boots to high heels and flip flops in any size.

For those who wish to donate shoes, but cannot bring their donations that day, there are several drop off locations around town, such as United Bank, Jackson General Hospital, and Fat Alberts in Ripley, C98 “The Bull” in Fairplain, B&G Heating and Cooling in Cottageville, and NAPA in Ravenswood. A full list of drop off locations is available on the Christian Laced Facebook page. For more information contact Angie Donohew at 304-532-5533 or Nicci Cobb at 304-532-6827. Monetary donations are also accepted and appreciated.

“I am so proud of the work these two have done and are still doing,” Angela Donohew said. “They are a blessing to all who know and love them.”