By all accounts it was a pretty good trade: a pair or two of outgrown shoes for a cone full of French fries from Spuds Cafe in Woodland Hills.
But the fifth-graders at Bay Laurel Elementary School realized something some of their fellow students might not have as they collected the shoes Friday morning.
The more important trade going on was a truckload of shoes bound for the Los Angeles Mission in exchange for the satisfaction of helping someone less fortunate.
As schoolmates and parents walked in with bags and boxes of shoes, the students in Lisa Turek’s fifth-grade class watched an idea that at first seemed merely fun turn into a heartfelt community service project.
The students collected hundreds of shoes on Friday and will collect more today at the Calabasas Farmers’ Market.
“These kids are lucky enough to have shoes and have multiple pairs,” Turek said.
“It’s nice for them to be able to give to someone else who may not be as lucky.”
The idea came from a funny story Turek told them about making up a holiday with a friend.
Lorry Black and David Syatt, both 10, decided to come up with their own holiday, “Bolivian Shoe Day.” They even created a fictional tale of how shoes were invented--by a Bolivian runner named Shoeziney who crafted them out of weeds.
And since weeds are often not the same color, the students also celebrated their holiday Friday by coming to school wearing different colored shoes.
In the weeks before the collection, the students distributed fliers at school and at the farmers market, asking for donations while reciting goofy slogans like “Got Shoes?” and “Have a Heart, Give a Sole.”
They also rounded up a sponsor in Spuds Cafe, which promised a free order of fries to each student who donated.
But even after all their hard work, the students were still surprised at the huge pile of shoes they collected. Some said they planned to drop more off at the homeless shelter to see firsthand the difference they can make.
“It makes me feel good to know that I actually helped people,” David Syatt said.