A sole-ful birthday: Instead of gifts, girl asks for shoes for kids

sokamoto@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 7, 2013 

Emily Steele told her parents instead of birthday gifts, she wanted to give her shoes to children who need shoes. So her mother Tiffany, the director of the DHA Community Center in Pine Mountain, decided to do the birthday party Saturday at the center and open it to the public. The shoes donated at the party will go to Our House at Carpenter's Way and Arabella.

MIKE HASKEY — mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

  • What: Emily Steele’s seventh birthday party, which has become the Shoe Party, to collect shoes to give to Our House at Carpenter’s Way and Arabella.

    When: 2-4 p.m. Saturday

    Where: DHA Community Center, 412 S. King Ave., Pine Mountain, Ga.

    Admission: A pair of new shoes in sizes 3-10 for young women and 5-12 for young men, a package of new socks (dress or athletic), a gift card or a monetary donation in honor of Emily’s birthday.

    For checks: Make them payable to The Methodist Home and mail to 1645 Hunter Road, Cataula, Ga. 31804. Be sure to write Emily’s name or Shoe Party on the memo line.

    Information: 706-663-4447

Emily Steele, like many children her age, loves the Disney Channel.

One day while watching the channel, she saw a video of a little girl her age who asked her friends and family members to bring her shoes for her birthday party. The 332 pairs of shoes went to an orphanage in Guatemala.

So when Tiffany and Charles Steele asked Emily what she wanted for her seventh birthday, the answer surprised them: The first-grader wanted shoes.

Tiffany told her she had enough. She has about 20 pairs of shoes and she wanted more?

No, Emily insisted. She wanted shoes, not for herself, but for children who needed them.

"I wanted to be thoughtful about others," she told her parents. "I didn't want to be greedy, but to think of others."

She'll forget about it

Tiffany and Charles told her they'd think about it. Tiffany was hoping her daughter would forget about the idea.

"We struggled with it," Tiffany Steele said.

Finding a place to store the collected shoes was a problem. Another problem was finding a place to send the shoes.

Tiffany said it was easier to find a place to send toys than shoes.

Emily kept insisting on acquiring shoes to give away.

Finally, they relented and started planning Emily's birthday party.

Instead of just inviting family members and friends, they've invited the whole Chattahoochee Valley to Emily's birthday party on Saturday. Today is actually her birthday, but they chose to have the party on Saturday instead. It will be in the DHA Community Center in Pine Mountain, Ga., where Tiffany is the executive director.

There will be cake, cupcakes, punch and popcorn for about 100 people. Monetary donations from sponsors have helped with the party, including buying the snacks and renting a "bouncy" house. Others have donated their services, such as a woman who does "crazy hair," creating hairdos using pipe cleaners, colored hair spray, flowers and lollipops and a face painter.

So far, the Steeles have collected almost 200 pairs of shoes, mostly from family members. About 100 pairs came from a senior community in Davenport, Fla., where Tiffany's mother lives.

Emily's goal is to have 900 pairs of shoes to give to Carpenter's Way and Arabella. Carpenter's Way is a home for neglected, abused and abandoned boys in Cataula, Ga.; Arabella is a home for neglected, abused and abandoned girls in Waverly Hall, Ga.

Instead of sending the shoes to another country, Emily wanted the shoes she received to stay in the area. So her mother, who became acquainted with Allison McKinney of The Methodist Home, which serves children and families in crisis in Georgia, chose that organization.

Asked what her classmates at Mountain View Elementary School (in Manchester) thought of her idea, Emily said, "They really, really like it."

On Thursday, Emily, who wants to be a pop star, got a taste of what famous people have to do. She did a radio program with Bear O'Brian and appeared on "The Dee Armstrong Show." She already did an interview with the Harris County Journal.

Emily's little brother, Quentin, 4, now wants to collect shirts for his birthday in May.

What: Emily Steele’s seventh birthday party, which has become the Shoe Party, to collect shoes to give to Our House at Carpenter’s Way and Arabella.

When: 2-4 p.m. Saturday

Where: DHA Community Center, 412 S. King Ave., Pine Mountain, Ga.

Admission: A pair of new shoes in sizes 3-10 for young women and 5-12 for young men, a package of new socks (dress or athletic), a gift card or a monetary donation in honor of Emily’s birthday.

For checks: Make them payable to The Methodist Home and mail to 1645 Hunter Road, Cataula, Ga. 31804. Be sure to write Emily’s name or Shoe Party on the memo line.

Information: 706-663-4447

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