Twin FeatBY SUE-ELLEN SANDERS
PHOTOS BY ROBERT P. DUDLEY
Before Molly and Tessa McKenna were medical students, the sisters had been exposed to the needs of Third World cultures, volunteering in clinics in Haiti, Uganda and the Dominican Republic, with their uncle, a physician.
“While we were there, we saw what a great need there was for shoes and medical supplies and a few other items,” says Molly. “ We saw women who had HIV walking miles and miles barefoot and carrying their babies on their backs in order to get to the clinic. By the time they got there, their feet were all cut up and they had parasites and fungal infections from not wearing shoes. They didn’t own even one pair of shoes.”
Together with her twin sister, Tessa, and their mother, they started the nonprofit organization, Share One Pair. “When we returned home, our mom suggested that we start collecting shoes, medical supplies, and cloth diapers for the poor,” says Tessa, age 27.
“A pair of shoes can help kids remain in school, instead of being home sick and can keep fathers and mothers at work, helping them to feed their family,” adds Molly. “A pair of shoes taken for granted in our closet can be a true blessing to another family.”
The sisters began to collect the shoes while attending school in Tallahassee and have already shipped 4500 pairs of shoes to Haiti. They moved to Port St. Lucie last summer to become part of the first class of medical students at Florida State University’s new Fort Pierce regional campus. The shoes that have not shipped yet moved with them, to a storage unit in Port St. Lucie, while awaiting shipment.
“Since we now have an abundance of shoes, we are focusing on collecting medical supplies, cloth diapers, plastic pants for over the diapers, and diaper pins,” Tessa says. “We also need several volunteers to organize shoes, put matching shoes and sizes together, and then box them up. These volunteers could be adults or high school students looking for a service project. We’re currently checking shipping companies who will be able to ship these items to a children’s nutrition center, among other places in Haiti and hope to send a container shortly.”
As they continue their medical studies, the sisters are concerned with needs here at home as well. Tessa’s call to action? “Forty million Americans don’t have health insurance. We need to find a way to help them.” Both young women hope to specialize in working with infect-ious and tropical diseases, especially with Florida’s migrant population.
“When we were growing up, our parents taught us that we must remember to give back for all that we have been given,” Molly says. “We hope to make a difference in some small way to help people who are less fortunate.”
WANT TO HELP?
To donate shoes, medical supplies, cloth diapers, plastic pants or diaper pins, call Tessa or Molly at (850)321-9486 or email: email@example.com. Share One Pair also accepts monetary donations to pay for shipping and purchasing needed supplies. Checks can be made out to Share One Pair and sent to 2305 SE 13th Street Pompano Beach, FL 33062.
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