Porter Ridge senior collects shoes, more for struggling women, teens
A leisurely day strolling along beachside shops changed the priorities of 17-year-old Porter Ridge High School senior Shelby Cochrane.
Passing by a shoe store, Cochrane saw a pair of TOMS shoes and wanted to buy a pair.
Though her mother said she’d think about it, the teenager was, nevertheless, touched by designer Blake Mycoskie’s One for One Program that transforms customers into benefactors. TOMS gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need for every pair its sells.
The company has given shoes to children in 24 countries in Africa, South America and Asia.
Although she did not buy TOMS that day, the experience “got me thinking about how I could do something like this,” Cochrane said. A few months prior, Cochrane visited Turning Point of Union County, a battered women’s shelter in Monroe, as part of Youth Leadership Union, a program designed to teach students community awareness and leadership techniques.
“I remembered that they needed things like clothes and shoes,” she recalled, and so Cochrane’s Got Shoes program was born.
Cochrane quickly asked her pastor at Arlington Baptist in Mint Hill to announce the first Got Shoes collection drive at church one Sunday, asking members to donate new or gently used shoes. The result was overwhelming – more than 200 pairs. “We had teens, kids, men’s and women’s shoes,” she said, “enough for two car trips.”
A friend from church suggested giving the shoes to The Relatives Crisis Shelter in Charlotte, which serves runaway or homeless youth 7 to 17 years old, and Cochrane decided to share the wealth. Because The Relatives is a small shelter with limited storage space, she donated 20 to 30 pairs to that agency and the majority to Turning Point’s Second Chance Boutique, an upscale thrift store in Monroe whose proceeds help operate the shelter.
Got Shoes expands
Cochrane toured The Relatives with a girl who shared her story of an abusive home life, and that made Cochrane expand her vision. “I live in a house where people love me and where I can eat and sleep and feel safe,” she explains. “This girl had none of that.
“They usually arrive to the shelter with nothing but the clothes on their back.”
So Cochrane decided to collect travel-sized toiletries for the youth at The Relatives, and she’s not slowing down.
Friends have volunteered to help, and she plans to meet with her principal to organize a Got Shoes collection at Porter Ridge High.
She’s filmed a video to share her mission with others and is writing a letter to TOMS to let them know how the company’s idea inspired her. “I want to get more people involved and aware,” she said, “so that we can help more people.”
Even with plans to attend High Point University next fall, Got Shoes will travel.