Kate Reinhardt is starting the school year with new perspective and not just because she walks the Galena High halls as a senior. Kate spent the last two weeks outside the classroom - half a world away, where the worries of kids are much different than they are here. “The poverty was like nothing I had ever seen before. It was just so eye-opening,” explained the 17-year-old student who just returned from Ghana. Kate traveled to West Africa with a dozen others on a mission to outfit orphans with shoes, which were collected right here at home. “All these kids have sandals that are either torn or they don't even have shoes on their feet."
Thanks to the efforts of local non-profit Think Kindness, Kate and the crew had more than 400 pairs to give away. “Being able to put the shoes on and they walked away with huge smiles on their faces; it's something I'll always remember."
On this ninth annual Global Act of Kindness trip, they also brought food to feel orphans at one of the newer orphanages for two months. The gifts and goods meant the world to the children, but Kate says she took away even more. “There was a little boy named David, who I was just attached to at the hip and he would call me Mama. I think that was the most heartbreaking thing ever!"
David was just one of hundreds of kids cared for by our community. Ashton Sunseri and Think Kindness give credit to you: all the volunteers, supporters and schools that collected shoes. Ashton says she's overjoyed that some of our young people got to witness the generosity from beginning to end. “They were able to see it come full circle; so collecting the shoes, boxing them up, putting them in a U-Haul, sending them out and going to Africa." Then they even got to place the shoes on the feet of hundreds of children. For some, it was their first pair ever. Seeing the joy in their eyes opened Kate's eyes to the impact she truly made. With that realization, Kate has vowed to continue to spread and think kindness – with their little faces in mind. "It was everything I expected and more. I would do it over and over again."
To learn more about Think Kindness and their shoe collecting efforts, log onto www.thinkkindness.org. The non-profit is booking motivational speaking assemblies now if you would like to get your school involved in their global kindness efforts.