California University Students Collect Shoes for Africa

Article excerpt

It's often been said that one person's trash is another's treasure.

An assistant professor at California University of Pennsylvania is using that idea to help underprivileged children in Africa.

The students in Carol Biddington's Ethics in Sports class have been collecting used basketball shoes over the last several months to send to needy children in Zimbabwe and South Africa through the Hoops 4 Hope program.

The idea actually came from a former graduate student, Mekia Troy, who is now the head girls basketball coach at Creekside High School in Georgia.

"I was teaching a leadership class this past fall, and one of the modules was about giving back to the community and helping others, and one of my online students (Troy) started talking about Hoops 4 Hope," Biddington said. "It seemed like such a simple program."

A global, nonprofit organization that began in 1995, Hoops 4 Hope has supported youth development throughout southern Africa by providing more than 10,000 school-age children a year with its basketball/life skills program.

Hoops 4 Hope provides the most basic tools that young people need to play team sports and face the many challenges of growing up in communities plagued with poverty, crime and HIV/AIDS.

"The significance of this project is providing the opportunity for students to give shoes to children and adolescents who do not have any shoes," said Biddington "When we walk to our closets these days, we usually have a choice of several pairs of shoes to pick from, but the children in Africa have no shoes. They go their whole life without wearing a pair of shoes."

While many individuals in Africa can't afford a pair of shoes, Biddington added, another reason is that about 75 percent of Africa is rural and there are no stores within walking distance.

"These are good programs," she said. "Along with providing equipment or clothing materials, they teach these children about sports, life, health and wellness. …