Schae Richards, community editor 

Fifteen-year-old Chandler Schramm has always had a desire to help others, and after being inspiared by her church leaders one Sunday afternoon, she decided to do something big.

It started as a church project. Chandler organized and held regular food drives in her neighborhood and former high school in Missouri to help local refugees. She also reached out to several Catholic charities to see what else was needed, or how she could help.

When Chandler and her family moved to Cache Valley last summer, Chandler wanted to help refugees in a different, yet important way. Chandler said education is the most important thing refugees need to be successful. “Clothes and food will get them by, but what they really need is an education,” she said.

Her father, David, has supported Chandler in this cause since the beginning, and has helped her make important connections, one of them being Aden Batar, the director of Immigration and Refugee Resettlement Services for the Catholic Community Services in Salt Lake. When they met with Aden, he said there are about 30 students at Catholic Community Services who need educational assistance.

Chandler, right, Thurl Bailey, middle, David, left.

Left: Chandler, Middle: Thurl Bailey, Right: David

Chandler has made it her goal to help these refugee students, and has been doing so through her own campaign called Ship Shoes 4 Refugees. This campaign calls out celebrities via social media, asking them to sign a pair of their shoes and ship them to Chandler. The shoes are then auctioned on eBay for four days. The first auction begins April 4, and all proceeds go toward helping these youths get a proper education.

Chandler immediately started sharing this message on her own social media channels, and started reaching out to different head coaches, athletic directors and athletes themselves. She even started a website dedicated to this cause, and produced a short video on how people can help. “What if you were in their shoes?” Chandler said, quoting the campaign’s tagline. “What would you want? You would want support.”

Chandler said it’s easy for everyone to participate. Here is how you can help:

  • Post a picture of yourself via social media holding up the number four with your fingers. Use the hashtag #shipshoes4refugees. Invite your friends to post, too.
  • Call out one or more of your favorite celebrities via social media, and ask them to support refugees and to “sign, ship and post” a pair of their shoes.
  • Bid on a pair of shoes, or make a donation at shipshoes4refugees.com. Every donation helps.

Chandler received the first pair of shoes signed by Thurl Bailey, retired NBA player and ambassador to Utah refugees. “We had lunch with Thurl, and he just happened to have a pair of shoes in his car that he signed for us,” David said. “He said he would talk to other Jazz players and help spread the word.”

Since then, Chandler has received shoes from Jazz players Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood, BYU athletic director and former football player Tom Holmoe, the Real Salt Lake players, actor Ben Stiller and many others.

For every $100 raised, Catholic Community Services can offer after-school programming to a refugee student. With $500 Catholic Community Services can take 30 refugee students on a field trip that will help with their education.” –  shipshoes4refugees.com.

Chandler doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. She continues to reach out to different sources and make new connections. She also sends out hand-written letters to head coaches of various professional sports teams.

Chandler encourages people to turn outward and look for opportunities to make a difference. “I’m just one person,” she said. “You never know what kind of impact you will make.”

Learn more about #shipshoes4refugees on her Facebook page or visit her website shipshoes4refugees.com.