Students organize semester-long shoe drive for children in Africa

People open boxes full of athletic shoes. Members of BYU’s Global Supply Chain Association have collaborated this semester with Gideon George and TimeOut4Africa to donate shoes to children in Minna, Nigeria. (Gideon George)

When members of BYU’s Global Supply Chain Association learned that Gideon George was holding shoe drives for children in Nigeria, they wanted to get involved too.

Over the past few years, George has been teaming up with TimeOut4Africa, a charity that helps donate athletic shoes and school supplies to children in Minna, Nigeria. When he was younger, George received a pair of shoes from TimeOut4Africa himself.

This semester, the Global Supply Chain Association teamed up with George, TimeOut4Africa and the Black Student Union to hold a series of donation drives they have called “Sneakers for Africa.”

Courage Tamakloe is a senior from Ghana. He is also the Global Supply Chain Association’s vice president and has worked to organize this semester’s Sneakers for Africa drives.

Tamakloe has been working with professors, sponsors, and shipping companies over the past year to plan funding and shipping logistics. “Our goal is to fill a 20 foot container with shoes and backpacks,” Tamakloe said.

Tamakloe said that the Global Supply Chain Association hopes to collect enough shoes by the end of the month. After that, a truck will drive the donations to Washington, D.C., where TimeOut4Africa will then handle shipping to Minna.

In order to collect enough shoes, Tamakloe reached out to the Black Student Union and George to help plan donation drives at events. “Courage wanted an all-black team to make it all feel more authentic,” Benjamin Borgoyne, the Black Student Union’s creative director said. Borgoyne has created and distributed flyers for the Sneakers for Africa drives.

In September, the Global Supply Chain Association held a Sneakers for Africa kickoff concert at the Velour. In order to preserve authenticity, the concert’s lineup consisted solely of black artists. “We wanted people there to experience African music,” Tamakloe said.

Tamakloe said that attendees did not have to pay an entrance fee. Instead, they had to donate a pair of sneakers or a backpack in order to get into the concert.

The Global Supply Chain Association continued to collect sneakers at other events. Club members stood at LaVell Edwards Stadium during the Boise State and University of Virginia football games with donation bins for the shoes.

Tamakloe said the club will also be collecting shoes at the Marriott Center Friday during the San Diego State basketball game.

George expressed his passion for working on the Sneakers for Africa project with Tamakloe. “Courage is my brother,” he said. “We have the best interest of the kids of Nigeria in our hearts.”

Courage Tamakloe and Gideon George hold a sign promoting Sneakers for Africa. (Courage Tamakloe)

Many people have praised Tamakloe and George for their hard work with the Sneakers for Africa drives.

Jonathan Kolo, TimeOut4Africa’s CEO, said Tamakloe, George and the Global Supply Chain Association have been very helpful in their Sneakers for Africa project. “They are doing a lot for the kids in Nigeria.”

Professor Bekki Brau said she has acted as a supporting cast member for Tamakloe as he has been the main organizer of the Sneakers for Africa events. “I am extremely proud of Courage and his hard work,” Brau said.

Brau also explained why it is so important to donate to Sneakers for Africa. “A sturdy pair of shoes makes a life or death difference,” she said. “When you donate, you’re making a massive difference in individual lives.”

Tamakloe and George spoke about why their collaboration with TimeOut4Africa is important to them. Tamakloe said it is difficult for people in West Africa to get a brand new pair of shoes. “There has been a rallying cry with the Global Supply Chain to help people who look like me,” he said.

“I love putting smiles on the kids’ faces and seeing them happy,” George said. “TimeOut4Africa helps people back home in so many ways.”

For people wanting to donate or learn more about TimeOut4Africa, they can visit the organization’s website, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

“Please donate,” said Tamakloe. “It will help us out a lot.”

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