Supporter Highlight: High School Student Uses Senior Exit Project to Collect 500 Pairs of Shoes
By Marketing and PR Intern Seth Crawford
In about 30 seconds of talking to rising Providence High School senior Peyton Holmquist, one is struck with her mature confidence and tireless passion. Talk to her for a bit longer and one becomes aware that this confidence comes to the 17 year-year-old not because of any special gifts she possesses (though she possesses many), but because of an assurance in what she uses those gifts to accomplish.
“I love service,” Homlquist said. Through her church, Matthews United Methodist, Holmquist is constantly finding ways to get involved in service. Whether it is singing in the choir, leading snack time during Vacation Bible School or volunteering at the church’s camp for special needs children, Rainbow Express Camp, Holmquist is always finding ways to get involved.
Service must run in the family. Her older brother Quinn is also service-minded, organizing a barefoot walk last year as part of TOMS Shoes One Day Without Shoes barefoot challenge. Holmquist accompanied her brother to Samaritan’s Feet to deliver the 75 pairs of shoes he raised through the barefoot walk. They were given a tour of the Samaritan’s Feet office and warehouse and told more about the organization’s mission.
“It was the most interesting thing I had ever been to and I never thought it would come out of just collecting those shoes,” Holmquist said.
On the car ride back from dropping off the shoes, Holmquist couldn’t stop thinking about how she could take what she had heard to make a difference in the lives of a portion of the 300 million children who go bare foot everyday. Then it hit her.
“I said, ‘Quinn, what if I do my senior exit (project) on something related to this?’” she said. “What if I took this passion somewhere further and researched it and learned about it more?”
By “Senior Exit” she was referring to the final project required from every student from Providence High School before graduating. The project is made up of three parts: a research paper, a product in which the student applies what he/she learned from writing the paper and a presentation before a panel of teachers.
Holmquist wrote her paper on the necessity of shoes in third-world countries as prevention against diseases transmitted through the soil and how Samaritan’s Feet is helping provide that basic necessity to many throughout the world.
Once the paper was written, another question presented itself: How could Holmquist apply this knowledge to a product?
“Because of my service background I knew I wanted to do something that helped people,” Holmquist said.
She was having a hard time thinking of a specific product until summer came and she was again hit with an epiphany.
“What if we turned Vacation Bible School into a shoe collection kind of thing?”
VBS at Matthews United Methodist always incorporates some sort of fundraising or collection aspect. Holmquist was able to convince the church to collect shoes this year.
To get the kids attending VBS and their parents excited about the shoe drive, Holmquist decorated the church with a shoe theme. She cut out 500 paper shoes, laminated them and put them all over the church. Each shoe had the name of one of the countries to which Samaritan’s Feet has distributed shoes written on it. She also made a video for each day of VBS to encourage the kids to bring in shoes. At week’s end, 479 shoes had been collected. The church will continue collecting shoes for a couple more months too.
“I donated the shoes to Samaritan’s Feet which is completely circling in my paper about how donating shoes to Samaritan’s Feet is the key to getting the shoes where they need to go,” Holmquist said.
Holmquist used her platforms as a student and VBS volunteer to impact the lives of about 500 people. She simply came up with a goal and encouraged others to help her achieve it. We all have different platforms that we can use to make a difference in the lives of others. If interested in joining Homlquist and using your own platforms to put shoes on the feet of children and help prevent them from contracting such diseases as hookworm and elephantitis, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.