MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Maryville Rotary Club partnered with students from St. Gregory Catholic School to collect shoes for orphans and vulnerable children throughout the world.

On Thursday, sixth- and seventh-grade students helped lift boxes of donated shoes into the back of a large tractor trailer parked outside their school. The local organization and school collected nearly 120 pairs of shoes and $250 in a monetary donation.

“You've done a great job,” said Larry Lunsford, self-proclaimed shoe cheerleader. He told the students a little about how the shoes will be distributed to orphans and vulnerable children in the United States and throughout the world.

Working with the nonprofit program Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls out of Dallas, 13 Rotary Clubs in Kansas City and surrounding counties are hoping to collect enough shoes to fill a 53-foot tractor trailer.

This trailer, along with its caravan, will make 21 stops over the course of four days on its way through north Missouri.

This is the 18th year Rotary District 6040 has held its collection drive for the program and it's the 10th year for the caravan.

Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls has collected and distributed four million pairs of new socks and shoes to children in more than 80 countries. Thirty percent of the shoes benefit children living in the United States.

For more information about the organization visit buckner.org/shoes or call 1-866-774-SHOE.

As for the Rotary Shoe Caravan, it still had several stops Thursday including Chillicothe, Marceline and Macon. On Friday, the caravan was headed to Kirksville, Bethany and St. Joseph. The caravan makes its final stop in Cameron on Saturday where a celebration will be held. UPS will pick up the truck and transfer it to Kansas City.

Lunsford said the truck then will be loaded on a train and taken to Dallas where distribution is taken over by Buckner Shoes.

“We'll be back at it next year,” he told the students. “If they (Rotary) don't call on you next year, I hope you'll call on them.”

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