Hats off to the shoe girl

Zoie Sangster celebrated her ninth birthday on Aug. 3. She asked for a new pair of tennis shoes.

She got a fancy pair of Nike Dual Fusions. They have plenty of pink, a girl’s most fashionable color.

Zoie will be ready to wear them on the first day of school Tuesday, when she starts fourth grade at Northwest Laurens Elementary in Dudley.

Her parents, Josh and Candy Sangster, threw her a surprise birthday party at the New Richland Baptist Church in Twiggs County. She received so many shoes you might think she was a caterpillar.

At last count, there were 81 pairs of all shapes and sizes and every color of the rainbow. There were New Balance and Converse. Shoes with images of Batman, Spiderman and Hello Kitty all made appearances. One pair was decorated with silver glitter. Another was a funky bright orange that no doubt glows in the dark.

This was Zoie’s birthday wish. She asked that friends and family members purchase new shoes for less-fortunate children in nearby communities. She wanted to give them new shoes to wear on the first day of school.

Wow. It’s amazing how a tiny girl could have such a big heart.

Let me tell you more about Zoie. She enjoys playing Cabbage Patch dolls with her little sister, Ava. She adores her Nana’s peanut butter cake.

She loves to read her Bible and Junie B. Jones books. Her bedroom is painted the color of a watermelon smoothie.

This past April, Zoie mentioned her shoe idea to one of her mother’s friends.

She had seen it on a commercial on The Disney Channel about helping other people.

Candy was not surprised at her daughter’s unusual request.

“She has always been good about sharing with her sister and thinking of others,” she said. “She is very kind-hearted.”

Still, Candy thought Zoie might forget about it. After all, her birthday was four months away. That’s an eternity when you’re a kid.

“But the closer it got, the more she talked about it,” Candy said. “She has always loved having a new pair of shoes on the first day of school. She wanted other children to have that same opportunity.”

This past Tuesday, the Sangsters loaded their Ford Focus with three large plastic sacks and 20 boxes of shoes. They delivered them to the Twiggs County Department of Family and Childrens Services in Jeffersonville.

“The people at DFCS were blown away,” Candy said. “They said it was rare for a child to ask for birthday gifts to help other children.”

Zoie and her mom wish they could be gnats on classroom walls during the first day of school. They know they would get to see dozens of happy feet.

“It would be nice to see those smiling faces,” said Candy. “Shoes are something we take for granted.”

Zoie is already thinking about next year, when she will ask for donations of school supplies for her birthday gifts.

Hats off to the shoe girl.

Reach Gris at 744-4275 or