Mary West poses in front of the “little house” used for donated shoes. RECORD PHOTO: David Ball

Maya Angelou wrote a book titled, “All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes.”

One Orange church is carrying that message to the world. McDonald Memorial Baptist Church in conjunction with Buckner International is conducting Shoes for Orphan Souls for the fourth straight year. The program collects new shoes for children in need, all over the world including the United States, according to Mary West, financial secretary and coordinator of the program. “There are many, many children with no home and no shoes,” West said. “We have great support at this church. We also host a community Thanksgiving dinner and the Angel Tree prison ministry.”

The church additionally hosts a community wide picnic, a Halloween carnival and an Easter egg hunt. Buckner and the Shoes for Orphan Souls have sent out more than 2.2 million pairs of shoes since 1999.

McDonald has partnered with Calvary Baptist, First Baptist Church of West Orange, Cove Baptist Church and MacArthur Heights Baptist Church in the past for the program. New athletic and canvas shoes are preferred in sizes infant through large sizes.

Some donors write personal notes of encouragement and place them inside the shoes. Shoes for Orphan Souls, a ministry of Buckner International, has distributed more than 2.0 million pairs of new shoes to vulnerable children in the United States and to orphans in 74 countries around the world. While our program has made a difference in many lives, there are still millions of children we can reach – all through a pair of shoes.

We are seeking donations of new shoes, socks and shoelaces from individuals, corporations, churches and civic groups.


Shoes for Orphan Souls began as Shoes for Russian Souls in 1995 by KCBI radio in Dallas, Texas. Buckner International assumed leadership of the program in 1999 and changed the name to reflect our world-wide reach. Established in 1879, Buckner has been working to improve the lives of children by providing humanitarian aid, transitional living and foster care services, domestic and international adoption, and support programs for children living in orphanages around the world.

The Need

According to The State of the World’s Children as reported by Unicef, there are 148 million orphans around the world. Orphanages do not receive enough funding to support the children in their care. One of the greatest and most immediate needs is a pair of shoes. Many of the children receive one pair of shoes to last the entire year, and some don’t have shoes at all.

Get Involved

There are several ways you can help:

* Donate a new pair of shoes and/or socks

* Organize a shoe drive in your work place, church or civic club

* Make a cash contribution, to help underwrite international shipping cost

* Help distribute shoes by traveling with other volunteers to Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Latvia, Peru, Romania, Russia, Vietnam or along the United States/Mexico Border.

Their Reach

Shoes for Orphan Souls continues to grow and expand its scope. We receive shoes from all 50 states, then distribute them to children in the United States as well as in Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chechnya, Chile, China, Croatia, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United States of America, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Donations may also be made to The church is located at the corner of Broad Street and South Street. They will be accepting donations from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, until June 30.