Tonawanda News — “It’s funny how it all started just from a Christmas gift.”
Sole Hope, based in Asheville, N.C., was started several years ago by Asher Collie after she saw a YouTube video showcasing the plight of Ugandan children infected with jiggers, small small fleas that enter bare feet and burrow into the skin to lay their eggs.
According to the World Health Organization, people who do not wear shoes, such as children, are most commonly affected, and if untreated, the infestations can lead to infections, paralysis or amputations.
Ashley Redburn of Sole Hope said in an email that, at this time, the organization offers jobs to 19 women in Uganda who would otherwise have no way to provide for their families.
“This creates healthier children and the ability for families to stay together,” she wrote. “Often the children that we see at our jigger removal clinics ... can’t function normally anymore. ...  With their jiggers removed, some follow up care, and a closed toe pair of shoes these children often make a 100 percent recovery.”
Noelle McLaughlin said she appreciates the fact that the organization makes a difference in a number of ways.
“I like that they’re a smaller organization. I feel like what we’re doing really makes a big impact,” she said. “I really like that they’re tackling it in this way. It’s amazing that they’re promoting medical relief and shoes for kids, but also that they’re providing jobs for people who need them. It’s not just charity, it’s sustainable.”
Rieselman said there’s been a lot of interest in Wednesday’s event. Children at the church have been very involved with collecting donations for the materials for the patterns, which has been a focus — and a valuable lesson — for the children’s ministry.