This school year, BYU students from the Global Supply Chain Association (GSCA) and the Black Student Union (BSU) partnered together for the first time and collected shoes to donate to children in Africa. The two student groups exceeded their goals and made their mark on both BYU campus and the global community.
Working with the nonprofit organization Timeout4Africa, which is based in Minna, Nigeria, the GSCA and BSU set a goal to collect 2,500 pairs of children's shoes by November 13, 2021. Scott Webb, an associate professor for global supply chain management (GSCM) at the BYU Marriott School of Business, supervised the project.
During the holiday season, the two student groups advertised their efforts and organized booths at events to collect the shoes. At the end of the donation period, the students surpassed their goal, collecting an estimated 6,000 pairs of shoes. The donated shoes have provided children in Minna with high-quality tennis shoes to wear while playing sports and attending school.
The idea for Shoes4Africa originated with Courage Tamakloe, a GSCM senior and member of the GSCA from Trenton, New Jersey, who was inspired by the story of BYU basketball player Gideon George, who is from Minna. George grew to love basketball after receiving a pair of donated basketball shoes to wear while he played. Inspired by this story and his own Black heritage, Tamakloe helped organize the project with George; GSCA; Tendela Tellas, the copresident of BSU; and Jonathan Kolo with Timeout4Africa.
To kick off the donation campaign, the GSCA and BSU started collecting shoes at the Velour Live Music Gallery in September 2021. The event featured African entertainers and Senegalese food. The students continued gathering donations by hosting stands at the BYU vs. Virginia football game on October 30 and the BYU vs. San Diego State men’s basketball game on November 12. The San Diego State team also contributed by donating several pairs of shoes.
“I was impressed with the organization of the students, who flawlessly executed incredibly complex activities involving several people and lots of coordination,” says Webb. “As a faculty supervisor, I attended the events and watched the students make everything happen.”
The giving event was an extraordinary learning opportunity for GSCA students. The students gained hands-on experience within the supply chain by figuring out how to deliver the 230 boxes of shoes to Minna. “Obviously we learn about transportation in the classroom,” explains Tamakloe. “But through this project, we were actively involved and made decisions with real impact.”
The GSCA and BSU students weren’t the only ones eager to help—the entire BYU campus community pitched in. BYU Laundry assisted the cause by giving the students warehouse space to store shoes throughout the donation process. The BYU Store provided wheeled storage totes so students could easily collect and transport the shoes donated at events. BYU Central Receiving palletized and shipped the shoes in a 20-foot container that had been ordered from one the largest shipping companies in the world. The Carmen and Scott Moscrip endowment given to the GSCM program paid for the shipping costs.
Another key player was Timeout4Africa, which helped alongside George’s parents in delivering the shoes and distributing them among the children in Minna. The BYU students who were involved expressed they could not have made any of this happen without the selfless efforts of Kolo and Timeout4Africa helping in the final stretch.
The first shipment, comprised of about 100 pairs of shoes, were flown by air for arrival in Minna by Christmas. The rest of the shoes were shipped for scheduled arrival in February 2022. The GSCA continues to receive photos and videos of children unboxing and receiving their new shoes weekly from Timeout4Africa.
“When I looked at the photos and saw the old shoes being replaced by the new shoes, the soles of the old shoes had holes or were being held together with strings,” says Webb. “The photos that touch my heart the most are those of the mothers looking at their children’s new shoes. Our students have impacted the lives of thousands for the better.”
Coordinating the efforts of several different groups to work on one project with so many moving parts is never simple. “The life lesson that everyone involved with the project learned is that charity is not easy,” says Webb. “When giving is effortless and does not demand sacrifice, it probably does not have as much power to actually help. When giving is a challenge, that is when the sacrifice is divine.”
Writer: Bethany Benham