Donate Your Old Shoes To Help Combat Human Trafficking In Africa

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How often do you think about helping those less fortunate than yourself? If you’re like most people, probably a few times a month. Perhaps more during the holidays. Of course, there are exceptions to every situation. However, we all probably think about helping others less fortunate at varying degrees. The other question is: How often do we actually take action to help those in need? Well for Ethan Huffaker and his team at Search and Rescue: Africa, they think about it and take action nearly every day.

Search and Rescue Africa

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What is Search And Rescue: Africa?

Search and Rescue: Africa, or SARA, is committed to helping African children break free from the bonds of trafficking. Their goals are to protect, prevent, and provide. They primarily focus on young children, but will occasionally help others if able. A big part of what they do is put a great deal of effort in prevention so that things like human trafficking never happens.

SARA is currently hosting a shoe drive for fundraising with the goal of wanting to build a shelter home in Mozambique. They have partnered with an organization in Mozambique called Bem Estar, where they help children receive proper medical care and treatment, clean water, and enrollment in a local school. Their fundraising efforts often provide help for specific children and families in need of safety and assistance.

About the Founder

SARA is headquartered right here in east Idaho in Sugar City, ID. Founded by Ethan Huffaker, who after serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Africa, wanted to help and make a difference. Huffaker said he “witnessed so much” while living in Africa and saw that there was a way he could help, even if it makes a difference for just one child or family.

Since his time in Africa Huffaker has made connections with local government leaders where he is able to further the mission of SARA.

The Shoe Drive

“We are currently running a shoe drive as our fundraising event during the spring semester at BYU-Idaho,” said Gaby Gutierrez, fundraising manager at SARA. “We would love the opportunity to spread more awareness about this event, as well as letting the community know we need volunteers.”

SARA Shelter Blueprint
Rendering of the shelter to be built in Mozambique

The shoe drive has been running since earlier this spring and will officially end July 23rd. The way the drive works is that SARA has partnered with Angel Bins. At the end of the drive Angel Bins will pay for the shoes collected.

“The goal for the funds raised from the shoe drive is to finalize the purchase of our land in Mozambique,” said Gutierrez. “We are ready to buy and develop to start building our shelter home. It will be big enough to host 25 beds (boys and girls separate), a medical area, food storage, a shelter, and caretakers.”

How to Donate

To help you can donate slightly used shoes at drop-off locations at University View Apartments (near the elevators in their main building) and at La Jolla Apartments (in the lounge area which is only available M-F from 8:00 a.m. until curfew). If you can’t find the donation box just ask the apartment manager.

They have reached their shoe goal with the help of the Sugar City schools. Their students held a competition of who could collect the most shoes and helped SARA reach their goal. That being said, they are still collecting shoes. The more shoes collected, the more funds they are able to obtain for the purchase of the land and other projects. The overwhelming majority of funds go to the mission with very little recycled back into the organization to keep the lights on. Everyone who works at SARA is there on a volunteer basis. No one is paid.

Why Should You Help SARA?

“For me personally, I’m a mother,” said Gutierrez. “For the most part, we all want to protect children at all costs. When looking at children who are less fortunate we want to give them a place. For example, one family’s father passed away. This widow and mother has nowhere to go and needs a place. We can help with that. That’s why we’re here.”

How can the Community Help?

Donating is the biggest way the community can help. SARA’s fundraising efforts operate on a semester-by-semester basis. There is a revolving door of volunteers. They are always looking for an extra set of hands to help with their efforts. They currently need volunteers who could help in the following areas: social media, marketing, public relations, and graphic design. Graphic designers can specifically help with creating merch and getting the word out via good design.

You can get involved on the volunteer front by calling Britni at 559-940-1715 or Gaby at 815-546-7144. You can also message them on Instagram @teamsarafundraising.

To learn more about the organization, visit teamsara.org.