Claire Frances Baker, a ninth-grader at Totino-Grace High School in Fridley, has been collecting shoes for an orphanage in Haiti since an earthquake hit there in 2010.
It started out as a community service project for the school — the goal was to collect 250 pairs — and soon grew into something much bigger. She had collected 12,575 pairs before the Jan. 31 Mass.
Baker has started working with Soles4Souls, a charity organization that collects shoes and distributes them to those in need. It is currently running a competition — whoever collects the most pairs of shoes between Jan. 1 and May 15 will earn a trip with the organization to Haiti to deliver shoes.
Baker’s goal is to collect 20,000 pairs by April 30. The next collection event is a Community Shoe Drop on March 18 at St. Vincent de Paul in Brooklyn Park.
“I believe I have been blessed in my own life with a lot of things,” Baker said. “And I am grateful that I can help others so much less fortunate than me.”