Chasidy Estes and Chelsey South are sisters-in-law who have set up a local drop-off site for Shoe Boxes for Kids in Jasper in a suite of The Place Too plaza at 52 North Walston Bridge Road.
Estes said, “We are gathering shoe boxes filled with coloring books, crayons, puzzles, card games, small stuffed animals, tooth brushes, toothpaste, stickers, bug spray and anything that a child would need or enjoy playing with.”
Estes said the items will be collected locally “as long as there is a need.”
Currently, the collection is to benefit children of Alabama. However, if the effort takes off, Estes said the donations may be used to help children of other states affected by the tornadoes of April 27.
“We love children and we just want to take their minds off everything that has happened and all the devastation they’ve been put through,” Estes said. “We’d like to make them smile — and make them forget — even if it’s just for a few minutes.”
Estes got involved with Shoe Boxes for Kids after one of its founders contacted her about starting a chapter in Jasper. Since then, Estes and South have gotten their children involved in the effort.
“The kids have wanted to help,” South said.
Estes said the program is a great way to teach children about philanthropy. She said kids are being encouraged to draw a picture or write a note for the recipient of the shoe box they donate.
Estes added that area attorney Albert D. Legg III contributed to the organization by providing the facility used as a collection site for Shoe Boxes for Kids. Estes said the drop-off location is behind the former Wesley Goodson auto dealership.
“He was very generous in allowing us to be right here,” Estes said.
Legg said he was pleased to have an opportunity to do something for the tornado victims.
“Hopefully that’s my way of helping some of the people out there with some of this tragedy that’s going on,” said Legg, who was a victim of the early morning storms that hit Jasper last month. His downtown office building was severely damaged by the storm’s winds that blew down a tree onto his home.
Estes said Quality Signs also contributed to the cause by donating a banner used at the facility.
South said the local organizers of Shoe Boxes for Kids are looking forward to making their first delivery. First, they said they want to wait until they have a sufficient number of boxes to give away.
“We don’t want to go out to a community that has a bunch of kids and only help a few of them,” South said.
On Thursday Estes and South were visited by the creators of the organization, Kristy Smith and Stephanie Jenkins, two friends who first met while attending University of Montevallo.
Jenkins, a resident of Alabaster, recalled how she got the idea for the project while watching local news about donations collected for storm victims.
She said, “It hit me like a ton of bricks that all the adults have supplies being given to them, but the kids ...”
Smith, a Pelham resident who created the Shoe Boxes for Kids logo and set up a page about the organization on the social networking website Facebook, said the non-profit group launched on Tuesday has hit the ground running.
“It has been great,” she said.
Items are being accepted at the drop-off site Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Also, individuals interested in taking part in the program may contact Estes by calling 205-717-8071.