Riley and Jack Buehner, two Riverwood International Charter School students, spent their winter break hand delivering 11 suitcases of shoes to children in Uganda.
The trip to the African nation was part of a school project and a Boy Scout program meant to form connections with fellow Scouts on the other side of the world.
Riley collected over 450 pairs of shoes with the help of his Scout troop and his brother Jack to fulfill Riverwood’s “Middle Years Programme,” which is required for the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
The shoes were delivered to Uganda as part of the Boy Scout program. Jack and Riley, who have been Scouts since first grade, embarked on a journey over Christmas break with several other scouts as a part of the partnership program, The Scout Bridges.
Each Ugandan who was given shoes received a pair of closed-toed shoes and a pair of sandals, according to a press release announcing the program.
The Community Assistance Center in Sandy Springs received all of the extra donated shoes.
The brothers’ idea for the donations started after Jack’s first visit to Uganda on a Scout trip. Jack was first inspired when he noticed the number of basic necessities that school children in Uganda lacked, especially shoes. During their time collecting, Jack and Riley were able to collect about 1,000 shoes, all of which were donated.
In order to collect as many shoes as they did, Riley made fliers to advertise the drop off all over the community. He advertised at his school, his church, Saint James United Methodist, and local businesses.
“We talked to the people who worked there asked if we could put up the donation box, and they were all very supportive,” Riley said.
After returning from Uganda, Riley showcased his work in Uganda as his Middle Years Programme Project. That is an ongoing program at Riverwood where students are asked to work towards or research a topic that sparks their interest and later present on it. Riley said many other students were impressed that he’d actually gone thousands of miles to deliver the shoes he collected rather than just shipping them.
“My MYP Project and the trip to Uganda have extended my knowledge of the struggles that many people face on a daily basis,” Riley said in the Riverwood press release. “I realize that not everyone is as lucky as I, and that many often live – and live happily — with very little. The gratitude expressed by the Ugandans for what, to me, was a relatively simple gift, was overwhelming. This project helped show me what friendship means and highlighted that people’s beliefs and values are similar, no matter one’s socioeconomic status or geographic location.”
During the two week visit, the Scouts did various activities and trips together, such as visiting the source of the Nile and the area of the equator.
“It’s kind of unique in that we’re actually staying with them overnight, whereas most people who visit Africa go back to their hotel rooms,” said Jack, who was participating in the program for the third year.
“I am so proud of Jack and Riley for their willingness to serve, their hard work to plan and implement their shoe drives, and am grateful for the impact that their initiatives have had, and will continue to have, on our scout friends in Uganda,” said Fontaine Kohler, director of The Scout Bridges Program.
This article was written and reported by Halimah Budeir, a junior at Fulton Science Academy and a Dunwoody resident.
Editor’s Note: Through our “Standout Student” series, Reporter Newspapers showcases some of the outstanding students at our local schools. To recommend a “Standout Student” for our series, please email editor@ReporterNewspapers.net with information about the student and why you think he or she should be featured.