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White Oak Rotary, area students make school a 'shoo-in' for Nicaraguan kids

Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Paige Jones, Anne Shelly and Jackie Savage sort shoes for Nicaraguan school children.

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By Tim Karan
Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, 3:56 a.m.

While it may be a struggle for some American students to decide which pair of shoes to wear to school each day, children in Nicaragua face a struggle far more serious.

McKeesport Area High School junior and Interact club volunteer Paige Jones, 16, said a rule in the Central American country means that simply owning a pair of shoes is a gateway to a brighter future.

“Children in Nicaragua can't go to public school without shoes and many can't afford them,” said Jones. “And if they can't afford shoes, then they can't get an education.”

That's why the White Oak Rotary Club, in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Pittsburgh, will be collecting gently used shoes of all types during February and March.

Local high school Interact clubs — a youth-level version of Rotary International — will do much of the collecting with drop-off points at McKeesport Area, Norwin and Serra Catholic high schools, the White Oak borough building and Banco Business Park in Irwin.

White Oak Rotary secretary Jim Sikorsky said the Pittsburgh Rotary has been participating in the Shoes For Nicaragua program for several years.

“Rotary is about helping people worldwide,” he said. “Think of a child in Nicaragua who can't go to school because he or she doesn't have any shoes. We just take those sorts of things for granted here.”

Casey Stapleton, a teacher and Interact moderator at Serra Catholic, said students will assemble drop-off boxes and the shoe drive will be mentioned to all students in class.

“Honestly, I'm hoping we can fill up at least a few large boxes of shoes,” Stapleton said.

Those in the community looking to help can donate shoes or other school supplies in Serra's main lobby from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on school days, during regular hours at the White Oak borough building and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays at Industrial Cafe in the Banco Business Park.

To donate at McKeesport Area High School, e-mail Interact club advisor Tim Kunes at

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1970, or

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