Even Mayor Ramiro Pérez and his wife, Saida, came out to help bundle thousands of pairs of donated shoes. They wedged themselves in between the high stacks of cartons to execute TOMS’ detailed instructions for the give-away. Every pair has to be sorted – just so – into bags by grade and packaged by school. Making a massive coordinated delivery operation like this run smoothly requires strong partnerships like the one that Altagracia Hernandez, Country Coordinator of Feed the Children, has built between her Oklahoma based NGO and the village of Palencia. She was happily surprised when the town officially volunteered to donate a warehouse large enough to store the entire container’s worth of goods but was most grateful to have delivery assured when the Muni recruited enough willing hands to support all phases of the TOMS’ effort.
Feed The Children had been cycling through their three distant communities measuring children’s feet for months – getting ready – by TOMS’ book. All shoes had to be estimated at a size larger to accommodate the expected lags between shipment and receipt. And, in order to meet TOMS’ data collection requirements, FTC presented trainings to Board of Education staff in their territories.
The Palencia volunteers have been most generous. A score of strong men appeared, seemingly at a moment’s notice, to unload the container when it was finally released from the port. And, on packing day, the storage area was full of neighbors carefully fulfilling the printed “orders.” These kind people stood at work tables set up in the dusty warehouse most of the day, checking off each name on the list and sorting out the mountains of shoes — pair by pair.
What is most remarkable is that these volunteers are supporting not just their own schools but all the districts that TOMS serves through Feed the Children – Guatemala. These volunteers are preforming the most slow-going work: repacking and doing it with alacrity and even a sense of urgency because the warehouse needs to be ready to handle FTC’s next in-coming shipment of donations including, medicines, books and a long ton of Food4Life Rice.