CICERO – One night, as Bridget Topczewski tucked her daughter Taylor into bed, the 11-year-old told her mom of an “ah ha” moment she’d had at school.
The soon to be sixth-grader at St. Mary’s School in Riverside described to her mom a presentation she’d seen at school on the Philippines, according to Bridget. She said Taylor decided then and there to help the children by sending flip-flops overseas so they’d be able to walk to school without getting injured or ill from the rough roads.
“My teacher’s brother came into our class because he was just on a mission in the Philippines,” Taylor said. “He kept saying how bad the streets were for the kids and how they didn’t have shoes or anything.”
In the search for finding shipping details, Bridget came across Flops for Flips, a Portland, Ore.-based nonprofit organization, which sends flip-flops and other needed items to the Philippines.
The mother-daughter pair collected donations from Taylor’s school, family friends and Bridget’s employer, Innerworkings in Chicago, according to Bridget. She said her company also covered the cost of the shipment to Portland.
Now, with more than 500 shoes collected, the donations have been sent to Flops for Flips, which will be in charge of sending the lot overseas to the Philippines.
Taylor, who said her favorite memory of the drive was when she surpassed the first goal of 200 flip-flops, said simply having a pair of shoes could help the kids stay healthier.
“When you think about how many things you have, you don’t really care, but realizing how they barely have anything, you kind of feel bad for them and want them to have something, too,” Taylor said.
For Bridget, she said this was a need she never knew existed, but she hopes Taylor’s actions also inspire others to get involved.
“It’s a worthwhile cause and it’s an unseen need,” Bridget said.
Looking back, neither Taylor nor her mom imagined the flip-flop drive getting so many donations, but both said they’d do it again.
“I really want to help those kids,” Taylor said. “I don’t want them to get sick just because they don’t have shoes.”