NEWPORT BEACH — Corona del Mar resident Jerri James is asking children to do something unusual on their birthdays: Give rather than receive.
She just launched Club GoBeDo, which stands for "Go somewhere, Be a voice, Do something." James' goal is to inspire 100,000 American children to donate 100,000 pairs of shoes to orphans worldwide.
The Internet-based club has everything parents and children need to organize shoe-collection events, she said.
The website, ClubGoBeDo.com, has links for downloadable music, fliers and videos about shoe birthday parties — where the guests bring shoes in lieu of presents — and parades that celebrate giving and where donations can be collected.
Although James plans to eventually expand Club GoBeDo to other basic necessities, such as clean water, food, clothes and school supplies, she will begin by helping orphans from the toes up.
"Shoes are one of the most basic, pressing needs that [are] often ignored," James said. "One pair of shoes is a life-changing experience for [an orphan]."
The experience has a profound effect on the donors as well, she said.
"The No. 1 goal is get their basic needs met, but the parallel vision is to create a way here in America that children can learn selflessness and compassion," she said.
And as a mother of two, James knows how monumental the task can be.
"You have to teach children selflessness," she said. "Children naturally learn to say 'mine' before anything else."
James recommends starting by doing charitable activities at first as a team with children, then progress to the point where they want to help others on their own.
"It's a process of planting seeds … that will eventually grow up until you have a whole generation of teenagers thinking of others before they think of themselves," she said.
Once a parent or child has become involved in GoBeDo, the website recommends sharing the cost — about $2 a pair — with the community of shipping the shoes to their site in Texas.
GoBeDo's partner, Shoes for Orphan Souls, a ministry of Buckner International, will provide the shipping to the orphans overseas.
Due to international health and shipping regulations, all donated shoes must be brand new, James said.
However, there is another reason why GoBeDo only accepts new shoes.
"It's important for the kids to feel worthy of brand-new shoes," James said. "It really makes a difference in their hearts."