If the shoe fits, birthday girl will donate it

Feb. 16, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

Like many girls, Karli Bullard has asked for shoes for her birthday — but not for herself.

The local third-grader turned 9 this Valentine’s Day, and instead of asking for presents, she has urged her friends, family and the community to give her shoes to donate to children in need.

“I am hoping to give the shoes to the kids in orphanages around the world and in Sanford,” Karli said. “I thought it would be nice if the other children could have shoes.”

Shoes can be donated during Karli’s birthday celebration, from 2-4 p.m. today at Grace Chapel Church, and other times at the Grace Chapel Church’s main office.

Karli, who attends Grace Christian School and loves to make crafts and play the piano, got the idea from a girl on television and “figured it was a nice thing to do.”

“It didn’t surprise me,” said Karli’s mother, Maci Bullard. “She has a huge heart for other people and helping other people. I wanted to make sure she was able to do it and help her reach her goal.”

Through the Bullard’s church family at Grace Chapel Church, friends and relatives, Karli has already received more than 150 pairs of shoes to donate to children around the world and locally.

Karli has an interest in sending them to New York City and Nicaragua along with the Bread of Life Ministries in Sanford, Bullard said.

“She learned about Nicaragua through our ministries at Grace,” Bullard said. “And ever since kindergarten, she learned about the children who lived in slums and the dumps. ... She always had a heart for them.”

Bullard said the shoes collected will be sent with the next Grace mission trip to Nicaragua, and she’s in contact with two New York college students, who attend Grace when home, to get the shoes to New York.

“I am really thankful for our church family and the impact they have on Karli’s life,” Bullard said. As a Grace student, she added, “she is constantly reminded about helping others.”

Every night before bed, Bullard said Karli would say a prayer asking for more shoes and to reach her original goal of 100 shoes. Now, she said, she’s hoping for even more.

“I’d be really happy to have 200 pairs of shoes,” Karli said.