Footprints across Haiti

Group holds shoe drive to aid earthquake recovery

Chloe Herring | 6/23/2014, 11:46 a.m.
In 2010 images of Haiti projected the plight of the small island nation into the hearts of many after a ...

In 2010 images of Haiti projected the plight of the small island nation into the hearts of many after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook the country’s already weak foundation to bits.

Fast forward several years to today and conversations about the state of Haiti that would place its recovery as a top global priority are scarce.

But one local police officer-turned-philanthropist is affected by images from the island nation that make the Haitian experience difficult to ignore.

“I have a lot of friends that are from Haiti,” said Keith Harrell, a veteran officer of the Miami Shores Police Department.” I see the pictures and this was something I had to do. It’s just been on me and I said ‘I just have to get this done.’”

Harrell chose to offer a helping hand to affected islanders by starting a shoe drive called Footprints Across Haiti, which collected shoes on Saturday, June 14 at William H. Turner Technical Arts Adult Education.

“With all the debris, the buildings going down and Haiti already being in a state of disarray with the earthquake compounding that, people are walking on jagged ground,” Harrell said.

The Footprints Across Haiti campaign was jointly launched by Harrell and Donata Joseph, founder of a health awareness organization called Adding Doses of Hope Daily (ADHD).

“After the earthquake a lot of people lost a lot. Some people lost everything. It’s unfortunate that Haiti is still in the state that it’s in right now,” she said.

Joseph partnered with Harrell in a shared effort to mobilize the people of Haiti. Her organization, ADHD, seeks to improve the mental and emotional health of families but Joseph said providing individuals with the basics is a crucial step.

“If you don’t have shoes on your feet you aren’t worried about your state of mind,” said Joseph. “If you can’t even step out there’s no need to get to the next step which is empowering yourself.”

By August both Joseph and Harrell hope to collect 10,000 pairs of sneakers and work boots.

Harrell said it’s really about challenging people to consider if the shoe were on the other foot.

“You hear the statement: 'You don’t know what I’ve been through until you walk in my shoes,'” he said.

“Well here’s your chance. We’re asking you to let someone walk 1000 miles in your shoes.”

Footprints Across Haiti will distribute donations through a local organization that has ties to an international mission group that serves the country’s orphans.

The campaign will continue Saturday, July 19 at Barry University’s School of Podiatric Medicine.