Stepping in to help shoeless Iraqi children

What: New and used shoes for children in Iraq

– The effect of war on children in Iraq has saddened one local
family, so to boost morale they have started a project in Gilroy
collecting children’s shoes.
GILROY – The effect of war on children in Iraq has saddened one local family, so to boost morale they have started a project in Gilroy collecting children’s shoes.

Karen Kaho, of Gilroy, received a call from her son Joe Kaho, who is a specialist in the Army’s first armored division and has been stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, for the last two months.

“He seemed very upset,” Kaho said. “He was very emotional and told me that there were children who stood outside the fences of his base and have no shoes on.”

He also told her the children were walking on broken glass and garbage.

“Joe has two daughters, and it really brings down the morale of the soldiers to see the children over there suffering,” Kaho said.

She quickly called her daughter, Angela Locke-Paddon, of Gilroy, to see how they both could help.

Locke-Paddon, who has been sending her brother care packages for the last couple of months says her brother has also sent her letters explaining the poor conditions in Baghdad.

“He tells me that the poorest child in America lives like a king in comparison to what he sees there,” Locke-Paddon said.

When he told her this, she too felt compelled to do something for the children.

Last week, Locke-Paddon, who is an employee at the Gilroy Police Department, made flyers and handed them out asking her co-workers to donate shoes to send to the children. In four days, she had already collected 47 pairs and sent them to her brother’s base on Monday.

“I was impressed by how many pairs I got so quickly from people here at the station,” Paddon said. “He does not know that I sent them yet, so I know it will be a big surprise when he sees how many were collected.”

Locke-Paddon did not want to stop there, so she contacted Tony Fernandes who is the owner of Ace Hardware on First Street to see if they would allow her to set up a bin for the public to drop off shoes. Fernandes gladly agreed and Locke-Paddon brought in her barrel on Tuesday afternoon.

“I think this is a great idea,” Fernandes said. “It shows everyone that we are still thinking about our troops over in Iraq.”

Locke-Paddon encourages people to bring new or old shoes.

“We really want people to donate sandals, tennis shoes. It’s really warm there and that’s what they need,” she said.

Joe Kaho’s two daughters, Savannah Leigh Kaho, 6, and Alannah Leigh Kaho, 3, were the first to drop shoes in the bin, which will eventually be sent to their dad and given to the children.

Kaho also contacted the First Baptist Church to have a bin placed in the office for people to leave shoes.

“My son really inspired me when he asked if we would try and send shoes,” said Kaho. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 8455 Wren Ave. “If we could send 100 pairs of shoes it would really help and the soldiers would be so happy.”

If people don’t have shoes to donate, Locke-Paddon says she could use help with the cost of shipping the shoes overseas. She used all of her own money to send the first three boxes, which cost her about $80. If interested in donating, people can contact her by e-mail at [email protected]

Locke-Paddon knows people question her willingness to help Iraqi people when they are the ones killing our soldiers, but says, “These children did not ask to be born into this and if we can help them out then maybe we can create a different perspective within them of Americans for everyone’s future.”