3,000 Pairs of Shoes

Tori Schmidt’s Charity Trip to Belize


It was the summer of 2018, and a Belizean mother and her 3 year old daughter had just completed the arduous trek to a neighboring village, where a charity group was giving out new shoes. The sun scorched their bare feet, and the little one wiped sweat away from her eyes. From the group of foreigners came a girl with a kind smile. She directed them to the piles of shoes and allowed the daughter to look through and find her favorite pair.
Many families took the same journey, some from miles away, when senior Tori Schmidt and fellow members of Ascension Lutheran Church’s youth group distributed over 3,000 pairs of shoes to Belizeans in June 2018.
The charity trip, sponsored by the church, occurs every three years. Schmidt and the other participants spent a week in Belize helping locals by giving out shoes, painting an entire school, and providing the school with supplies for classes. Since the people spoke mostly Spanish, the group had interpreters to help with the language barrier.
Forty-two percent of the general population of Belize is affected by poverty, according to UNICEF. In 2019, Belize was ranked the world’s forty-fifth poorest country.
“The Belizains always used every last piece of everything they owned, because frankly
the people we were helping barely had enough money to feed their families,” Schmidt said. “If they even had the luxury of wearing shoes, most of the time the soles were gone or the toe end of the shoes were cut off so their feet had room to grow.”
Schmidt’s goal was to experience cultures other than her own and to participate in an important event for her church. She even still texts some of the people she met in Belize.
“I didn’t just meet new people,” she said. “I made friendships for life.”