SD girl collects shoes for Pine Ridge reservation

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SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) - Instead of requesting Barbies or art sets for her birthday, a Spearfish girl wanted to do something for children in need.

After seeing TV commercials of barefoot children in Africa, first-grader Aimee Tschetter said she got the idea to collect shoes to ship to them.

But when her father, Russell Tschetter, discovered it would be too expensive to send them around the world, they settled on the idea of collecting shoes for children on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

“It’s just nice for me to have some stuff, but I don’t want any more presents,” said Aimee, who turned seven on Jan. 12.

With a bit of help, she has collected at least 200 pairs shoes she will help distribute on March 1 at Wings as Eagles Ministries’ Dream Center, which is located on the reservation.

Tschetter said his daughter’s actions are not surprising since she is a thoughtful and considerate girl.

“In her mind, it’s not a big deal. I think she’s taking the perception of it’s what we are supposed to do,” he said.

After Aimee persistently reminded her father of the birthday wish, he contacted the KSLT, a radio station in Rapid City, which agreed to publicize the shoe drive and serve as a collection point along with the family’s church, Connection Church in Spearfish.

Aimee is a very inspiring little girl,” said KSLT Music Director Jamie Knapp. She said the Rapid City-based adult Christian contemporary radio station embraced her idea.

The radio station suggested Tschetter contact Wings as Eagles Ministries to distribute the shoes to children on the reservation.

Lori McAfee, Wings as Eagles founder, said it was a bit unusual for them since they do not usually hold shoe drives, but they were delighted with Aimee’s idea.

“There’s so many that do not have the shoes and coats,” she said. “It’s a great need that’s being filled.”

McAfee said she was particularly impressed that someone so young could be so sensitive to the plight of others.

“This child has a lot of insight to the need,” McAfee said. “It is so amazingly different. I mean just to be able to give and to want to give especially at that age.”

Aimee, meanwhile, is hoping that her act of kindness can pay for others in the future.

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