Ripley youth volunteer to help those in need

Suzette Lowe
Members of the Ripley chapter of FFA and Ripley High boys soccer team load over 10,000 shoes for Christian Laced and Soles4Souls.

A program begun five years ago by Ashlyn Donohew and Gage Cobb is still going strong.

The two heard about the work of an organization, Soles4Soles, when they were only 11-years-old. The charity works to fight poverty by collecting new and slightly used shoes to distribute to children and adults in impoverished areas around the world.

The passion that the two, who are now 16-years-old, have for the plight of others has not waned. In fact, it has grown.

Using the name Christian Laced for their local group, the two have seen over 85,000 shoes collected since 2015.

Being in a world-wide pandemic has taken its toll but not stopped the project.

On a recent September afternoon, Donohew and Cobb, along with about 40 of their close friends and family members loaded 10,472 shoes that will eventually make their way to people in need.

“It doesn’t grow old,” Donohew said. “It’s still exciting to be able to help other people.”

As for the 40 or more friends that came to help, they were members of the Ripley chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA) and the Ripley High boys’ soccer team.

Parker Cobb, 14, said it was a simple task to get help.

“We just said we needed them and they came,” he said. “But it felt really good to see all of them show up.”

Craig Canterbury, FFA sponsor, told those assembled that it was the biggest group ever to volunteer.

“You all proved that we can count on you,” he said. “And look what we accomplished.”

The next order of business for the Cobbs and Donohews is to collect more shoes from all the locations around the area. They hope to be able to go on another mission trip to meet people and distribute shoes.

“We’ve been to the Honduras and Guatemala,” said Nicci Cobb, mother of Gage and Parker. “My daughter, Emry, is especially excited because she’s finally old enough to go. We can never express how much we appreciate Jackson County. The people here can’t be beat. They give and give and show up when needed.”

For information about Christian Laced, contact Nicci Cobb at 304-532-6827.

Thousands of shoes will head from Ripley to Alabama for shipment to people in need.