Chicago — Kerry Koranteng, a 12-year-old from Chicago, has been collecting shoes — but not for herself. She was inspired by a trip to see her family in Ghana when she was eight years old.
“When I even visit my great auntie in the villages, you can see every child, no shoes on, and I realize this is very dangerous,” she told CBS News.
Last year, she began sending shoes to the children in Ghana with the support of a local nonprofit. Some of the kids are her own age.
Kerry raises money for the hefty shipping fees and stuffs her suitcases full of shoes during her trips to Ghana during the summer and winter breaks from school.
“The teachers there, they tell me the kids who are more in need. So I bring them out and give them the shoes first and then when I am done I give the shoes to the other students,” she said.
Her family’s living room has turned into somewhat of a shoe store. “So much boxes stacked up,” Kerry said.
She’s sent nearly a thousand pairs from Chicago to Ghana. The shoes are handed out to children like 9-year-old Mary Jalisa, who used to walk to school barefoot.
“No one has given me shoes like that before,” she said, showing off her shoes via Zoom to CBS News with a big smile on her face. “I wear them to school, to church, everywhere.”
In one village, Kerry’s generosity was cause for celebration. Children who received the shoes danced of joy.
She said her hope is to motivate others. “If I help others, maybe I can inspire another to do the same,” she said.