One hundred Parsi children, who are a part of the Xtremely Young Zoroastrians (XYZ) foundation, have collected 12,199 shoes for the underprivileged within three hours in Mumbai.
The shoe collection drive was an event organised as a collaborative initiative with Make A Difference (MAD), titled XYZ Stepping Forward.
Between 9.30 am and 12.30 pm, 100 members of XYZ, aged 5-15, were accompanied by parents and volunteers as they visited 21 Parsi colonies in the city. The shoes they collected were handed over to NGOs like Hamara Footpath, Goonj, Angel, and Oscar foundation, which gave them to underprivileged people across Mumbai.
Hooshang Gotla, founder of XYZ, told DNA, “ “There are so many children who go to school but do not even have proper footwear. Hence, we thought that it will be a good initiative that our children can get connected with. The pair of footwear we discard might be the only some children have hence, we are ‘stepping forward’. This initiative also brings togetherness among the community members.”
Parsi housing societies were dotted with posters that children made about the donation drive.
Apart from the shoe collection, XYZ also collected donations from residents to provide football studs and stockings to 300 children who are associated with the Organisation for Social Change Awareness and Responsibility (OSCAR) foundation. XYZ also intends to use some of the money to give away 10 or 20 prosthetic feet, commonly known as ‘Jaipur Foot,’ for disabled children.
The organisers initially expected around 3,000-5,000 shoes but were overwhelmed by the response. The shoes were collected and sorted by volunteers into various categories, such as, ‘male’, ‘female’, and ‘child.’
Riyan Kharbai, a 13-year-old student who collected shoes from seven buildings in Andheri, was very happy with the Stepping Up initiative despite the fact that he had a couple of unpleasant encounters with grouchy residents who refused to make a contribution.
Riyan’s mother Nazneen told The Hindu, “During the conversation back at home, the children were saying things like, ‘Every time I want a new pair of shoes I’ll stop to think about whether I need to buy it.’”
For the second phase of the drive, XYZ will request parents, teachers and volunteers to collect at least 1,000 pairs of footwear from 60 schools in the city, on December 17. Commenting on the success of the collection drive, Hoshaang said, “This is not an XYZ initiative only. We want to be a catalyst for change. It just takes a little effort. People have not just shoes, but blankets, soaps and even umbrellas to spare. All they need to do is reach out.”