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Aimee’s Shoes Makes a Difference for Many In my experience writing “Her Voice” stories, I have been blessed to meet so many remarkable people right here in my own community. Nothing has yet moved me as much as my interview with young Aimee Tschetter, founder of “Aimee’s Shoes.” The pretty young lady and her father, Russell Tschetter, paid a visit to my house for an interview one unseasonably warm November afternoon. Adorably dressed up in a flowered top and leggings, she explained that she had her D.A.R.E. graduation that afternoon. Fortunately for me, the busy young lady took time between school and dance practice that day to tell me her story. Tschetter, the youngest of Russell and Terri’s three children, said a commercial caught her attention while watching TV in their home in Spearfish, SD when she was just 5½ years old. She remembers a girl who mentioned sending the shoes she received for her birthday to Africa, where they could go to someone in need. The image of a young African child walking on bare feet to the community water well imbedded in her mind and she felt a strong urge to help. Russell explained how, as her 6th birthday drew closer, she kept asking for shoes. He shrugged it off at first, not sure where she was going with her request. When she relentlessly kept asking for only shoes, her parents asked why she wanted the shoes over anything else. She badly wanted to send her shoes over to Africa too. Russell and Terri made some connections with church groups and different organizations in the Black Hills and headed over to the Pine Ridge Reservation for their first year’s shoe distribution. It went rather well. “I thought it was just a one-time thing,” Aimee smiled. After that first distribution, though, the big-hearted girl couldn’t stop her excitement in helping others. As it came closer to her 7th birthday, she decided that she wanted to continue the project to help more people. Now five years later, she’s continued her mission to provide shoes, helping others in Porcupine, Beadle Creek, Manderson and at the Pine Ridge Reservation all in South Dakota. She even continued her project after her family moved to Yankton two years ago. Now in Yankton, Aimee’s Shoes primarily provides shoes to those in Santee. They’ve partnered with various churches and organizations and this last year have partnered with the Active Minds group on the Wayne State College campus in Wayne, NE. The Active Minds group assists with collection and distribution in their area. Aimee’s Shoes still has a presence in Pine Ridge, as there are connections that assist with delivery there. Aimee’s previous third grade teacher, a previous art teacher and the Girls on the Run group in Spearfish help assist in this distribution. Many hours of work go into the process of getting the shoes ready for the delivery. Aimee and her parents sort the shoes into categories of men’s, women’s and children’s. If needed, they clean and polish the shoes and replace missing shoe laces. On distribution days, they arrive at the designated location early to set up their display of about one thousand shoes. They stay on site and assist with handing out the shoes, normally a two- to three-hour process. Their shoe distributions are held every year, though not always at the same time of year. The young volunteer explained that they plan vAIMEE continued on page 9 Bridges To Hope Counseling Services, LLC 1101 Broadway, Yankton • 605.665.4488 Providing support and interventions for coping with depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, chronic and terminal illness. Jerry Webber, LCSW-PIP • Individuals • Families • Couples HERVOICEvJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018v5

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