Salina student organizes shoe rally
Students from the Schiller Elementary School in Salina, Kan., have their picture taken with members of the 1st Bn., 5th FA Regt., 1st Bde., 1st Inf. Div. after receiving an award from Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Kevin West. The school's fifth graders were responsible for collecting more than $11,000 last year so they could purchase 1,050 shoes for Iraqi children. The project was the brainchild of Elizabeth Motter, 11, and her teacher Sara Gault. Motter sent the shoes to her father, border transition team member Master Sgt. Brian Motter, now the first sergeant for Trp. A, 1st Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt., 4th IBCT.

SALINA, Kan. - There are 1,050 Iraqi children walking around with new shoes because of the efforts of an 11-year-old girl, her father, her teacher, her school and the city of Salina.

Elizabeth Motter was a fourth-grade student at Schilling Elementary School in Salina last year when her father, 1st Sgt. Brian Motter was deployed to Iraq as a member of a border transition team. While deployed, he kept in contact with Elizabeth and her school through e-mails.

The Kansas students wanted to know about the students in Iraq, their culture and traditions. Motter answered their questions, often times sending photos of the Iraqi children and showing how they lived.

"We did a lot of cultural things," said Sara Gault, Elizabeth's fourth-grade teacher. "I did Power Point slides and Brian sent the photos," she said. "When we asked him what we could do for the children there, he recommended sending shoes."

That's all it took for Gault, who immediately involved the entire fourth grade class in the project. "We researched the types of shoes we should buy and how we would raise the money to buy them," said Elizabeth.

"We came up with the idea of a fundraiser," said Gault. "The kids wrote letters to random Salina residents and businesses and every morning the students here participated in the 'Pennies for Pairs' project, their way of donating money for the project."

"We really hoped to raise about $1,000," said Gault. "But the first week, we received a check for $1,000 and the next week another $1,000 check showed up in the mail. The project really took off." "They raised enough money to pay for the shoes and shipping to Iraq," said Motter. "They did all the work," he said about the staff and students. "I got the fun part of distributing the shoes."

On May 14, Elizabeth, along with all of the students at the school and her teachers, were recognized by the Army for the project.

"I'm here on behalf of the Army, and myself, to say, 'Thank you,'" Lt. Col. Kevin West, battalion commander, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, told the entire school's students and staff assembled in the gym. "What you did is sacrifice your candy bars and Cokes. It's healthier, and your money went to help kids in a part of the world where they don't have a lot."

"Our students learned a lot during the project," said Gault. "They learned about the country of Iraq.

They learned about the students there and they were taught a valuable lesson in giving," she said. "They gave everything they could for this project and most importantly, they gave from their hearts."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16