Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Operation Sparkly Shoes

IMG_0805How cute is this kid?!

As you’ll recall in November, I posted a call to send sparkly shoes and other goods to South Sudan where my friend LeAnna is posted with USAID. She had posted on her FaceBook page that in lieu of gift-giving this year, she was going to buy things for an orphanage school in Juba and asked her friends to check out her Amazon wish list.

Well, without telling her, I wrote about her here and linked the list at Chump Lady — within 24 hours we’d purchased everything on her list and then some!

Abusing the diplomatic mail pouch (apparently, there’s a clause that you’re not supposed to use it for orphanage supplies…oops…), all of our stuff arrived from Amazon. The kids are opening their gifts tonight at a Christmas party — and every kid gets a new pair of shoes!

Below is LeAnna’s letter — and I’ll post more pictures of the party when I get them. It took an insane amount of preparation, a lot of Xmas wrapping, and two carloads of stuff to make it happen. Not to mention the generosity of a lot of chumps — THANK YOU!

This little girl was so excited, she kept sneaking into the prep room and trying on the shoes. 🙂

Hey Tracy,
I went to the orphanage yesterday — we had two cars filled with boxes.  I spent the morning helping the staff sort through the boxes and put together a Christmas package for each of the kids who reside at the orphanage here in Juba. We also set aside half of the stuff to send up to a second orphanage they have opened up country in a town called Yei.  Each child residing at the orphanage will get a new pair of shoes for Christmas. The staff was so excited about that!  Once we got everything sorted into the bags for the kids, we wrapped gifts.  The little girl in the photo kept sneaking into the room where we were working and getting into the boxes of shoes!  The photos of the older girls are of them practicing singing Christmas carols.
Tonight, the orphanage will have a Christmas party and the kids will get to open their shoes. I’m going to try to get over for that, as that should make for some better photos.
Sorry I was unable to get better photos today — it was all about sorting and helping to wrap presents! They were trying to keep all of the kids out of the room where we were working so as not to spoil the surprise.

Will post more soon!


Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Hey, just wanted to point out, the kids are getting more than shoes — of course, they’re getting all the toys and books too that we sent. It sounds like those are being divided with care, and also shared with the new orphanage up north.

    • Did anyone see this incredible video on South Sudan kids at the New York Times? It really gives you an idea of what LeAnna is dealing with there, building schools in refugee camps.

  • Look at that beautiful baby’s eyes! She looks so happy with her fancy shoes. I hope that they all have a fabulous Christmas!

  • One of the best ways for chumps to build their awesome new lives is to give to others. Might this orphanage be something we can continue to support as a group? I know this post made my day. Happy Winter Soltice. It’s also a new moon and a great day to think about beginnings instead of endings. Blessings to all of Chump Nation, to Tracy, to Leanna, and to all kids everywhere who struggle to survive.

    • I agree with you — giving to others is one of the best ways for chumps to build our awesome new lives. Happy Winter Solstice to you, LAJ, and all of Chump Nation.

      Thanks for this update, Tracy. That little girl is so precious. I’m going to print that photo to remind me what to be grateful for.

      Happy holidays (all of ’em), all!

      • Happy Winter Solstice! I always celebrate the passing of the shortest day of the year! Now I can look forward to spring 🙂

    • As Mark Twain said, “The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

      • So true Nomar. I start my volunteer work in the New Year in one of Melbourne’s major public hospitals. I am so looking forward to this. It will make me appreciate just what I really do have and how fortunate I am. Merry Christmas to you, your family and all the Chumps here at Chump Nation but particularly to Tracy. Without this wonderful woman I think the vast majority of us would be completely lost in a world of terrible pain. Thank you Tracy.

  • Oh lovely! These photos are my best present! Leanna is an angel – wishing them all a very Happy and peaceful Christmas x

  • Seeing goodness like this never fails to take my mind off the yucky things in life, and to always remember that we are here to provide service and random acts of kindness to as many people as possible, whenever we can. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such beautiful news, and kudos to your friend for her phenomenal efforts to pay it forward. Hugs…

  • Thanks to LeAnna for her mightiness and tireless work making so many children’s live brighter this Christmas. I’m going to show my daughter the Confident Children out of Conflict Facebook page and let her know that our family (i.e., she and I) helped bring smiles to other children this Christmas. Kindness is its own reward, truly!

  • Very impressed indeed. I live in South Africa and so donate to similar initiatives very locally (the poverty here is heart-rending, even things like soap send kids into paroxysms of happiness. I’m not kidding and they are not being polite. It makes me want to cry, there’s a wide-ranging initiative called santa’s shoebox project which is fantastic), but this is so worthwhile, it’s hard to imagine the real difference it actually makes. I’m not familiar with South Sudan, but do work with a refugee organisation here in Cape Town, where stories are so common, of children and families getting torn apart in awful ways, and the work these orphanages do is heroic, in the face of some very serious danger and of course, lack of funds. Your friend is an angel, or what this atheist considers to be an actual ”real” angel, someone who goes and does what she can to make a difference in the world, sacrificing quite a lot along the way and not counting the cost.

    What sometimes gets overlooked is that for many children such as these ones – and adults too, of course – the notion of having an actual new thing, something for you, no one else, just you, no strings, is a totally new idea. Watching the santa’s shoebox kids unwrap their gifts and seeing the slight confusion and hesitation… then joy on their faces gets me each time.

    • Hey, South Africa! I used to teach (a long time ago… 1989) in Khayelitsha. The poverty I saw there (and in other parts of southern Africa) blew my mind. But then again so did the mightiness of a lot of the people dealing with it.

    • Just learned about Shoeboxes — here’s a great video of kids getting their shoebox presents in Burundi. If this doesn’t cheer a soul up, I don’t know what will. 🙂

  • Many thanks to the orphanage staff, to LeAnn and to you Tracy, for making this happen. I’m so glad our contributions will bring some joy.

    If anyone is wanting to do more this year, the giving that started so small, has gotten tremendous on the Bloggess blog. Many options there if you feel the desire and have the means to help more peoples.

    Jedi Hugs to all and to all a Merry Solstice!

    • And to you, Dat! The Force is strong in you, and your presence here is appreciated. All Chumps are, but you’ve been a particular inspiration to me! Happy Solstice back.

  • Happy to be a part of this. Thank you CL for sharing this opportunity with all of us!

  • The picture of the little girl in the blue shoes is priceless. Her beaming face is so beautiful.

  • Yesterday I found out I will have an income coming in starting in February and with it brings the knowledge I can now afford to give. Yay!! I’ve been stretching my savings this year and getting by on whatever I make on a part time basis. Most weeks it’s $25. When I was working full time and getting a great salary I donated whenever and wherever. This year I’ve had to rely on my adult children to pay the utilities and help with groceries and gas so Chumpy donations have been way down. It’s never too late for kindness right? Happy Solstice!

  • How wonderful!! that is awesome. i would love to adopt all the needy, lonely and hurting children.i am so glad people help out other people.

  • This made my day! Thank you for the reminder what the season should be all about!

  • This brought tears to my eyes! The picture of that baby smiling while wearing those shoes is such a reflection of what this season is really supposed to mean. Thank you Tracy and thank you LeAnna for allowing us to share some of what we have (even if we only have a little) with someone who has so much less. Merry Christmas to this family of Chumps (because we really are a family) and may we all find joy in during this season and the New Year.

  • Wonderful. Just wonderful. Sometimes all it takes to feel better is a new pair of sparkly shoes to wear and a good book to read. Not only do those kids get a little something special that is theirs alone, and fun things to share, they get to know that people around the world care about them and someone close at hand was thoughtful enough to know what size shoes each child needed and match them up with just the right pair.

    Raising a glass of holiday cheer to Tracy, Leanna and Chump Nation for being mighty, mighty elves!! And got to love Amazon for making it easy and getting the goodies where they needed to be on time.

    Joy to the World, my friends!

  • Tracy…I don’t know how I missed the November column about sending sparkly shoes and books! I went to Amazon’s page to see if I could still donate but the link was gone. Maybe we could do this again? I would LOVE to send that gorgeous little girl another pair of sparkly shoes!!

  • Tracy, thank you for including us in contributing gifts to these children. And please thank your friend. This is so heartwarming to read about and that little girl is so precious! I can’t wait to see more pictures!

  • Just an update — the wifi is down at the USAID compound in Juba. (The Grinch stole xmas in South Sudan…) so LeAnna could only communicate via work email. She said it was total happy chaos on Sunday! The kids loved the gifts. Some pictures to come, but before they opened gifts, the young women wanted to sing us a Christmas carol wearing Santa suits (!). Can’t wait to see that. Apparently there is a video of this.

    As soon as she’s able to upload files, we’ll get more news. (LeAnna’s not allowed to upload personal files at work.)

    And the little girl in the photo is named Fatima. She’s the youngest orphan at the school, and apparently super smart. She knows words in three languages. Juba Arabic, English, and the local language. LeAnna’s been reading to her. 🙂

  • >
    %d bloggers like this: