May 23, 2022

Post- Caravan Update - Rotary Shoes for Orphan Souls - Rotary Clubs in District 6040 - another amazing year
To All Shoes Cheerleaders in Rotary District 6040 Rotary Clubs –
It was simply great to see our Rotarians at each of our 42 stops over the past two weekends for the 2022 Shoes Caravan.  Tremendous Rotary spirit throughout Northwest Missouri, Northeast Missouri, North Central Missouri, West Central Missouri and the Kansas City area.  I’m told the two weekends totaled 1,600 miles of driving.  I believe it.
Twenty-one thoughts for our post-caravan update in our 21st year -
It was truly outstanding to travel to EVERY ROTARY COMMUNITY over a 6-day period.  Everyone loved this, and we were pleased to repeat the caravan schedule we had done the year before.  Amazingly, we dodged nearly all the rain drops over the past two weekends!

Thank you for greeting us so warmly at every stop.  Of course, when the temps were over 90 degrees, in some cases this was not hard to do!!!
Very nice to see how you continue to involve the community at large – Girl Scouts.  Interact Clubs.  Middle Schools.  Elementary Schools.  Churches. Workplaces.
Without question, the spirit of Rotary in District 6040 is as strong as ever.  It was easy to see how much this District Service Project continues to resonate in your Rotary Club.  It was very nice that our District Governor, David McCaughey (Kansas City 13) could join us for a couple of caravan stops.   Our Governor next year in 2022-23, Kent Shelman (Lee’s Summit) enjoyed the final two days of the caravan and we were pleased to have his help.  It is also great to know that we have the support of the Governor 2023-24 Randy Steinman (KC Plaza); Governor 2024-25 Erik McGuire (St. Joseph East); and Governor 2025-2026 Jodi Sundaram (Liberty).  I have been personally grateful for the support of 21 consecutive District Governors over 21 years…and with the support from Kent, Randy, Erik and Jodi….we look ahead to these next few years, and to our 25th anniversary in 2026!

I am personally so thankful for the core caravan team that includes John Gill (Richmond); Cassy Venters (KC Plaza); Kenny Harris (Blue Springs); and Phyllis Dieckmann (Higginsville).  I know you are thankful to them as well.  You should consider joining the caravan, for a day, for a few days, or for the entirety.  We’d love to have you join us, and can always use the help.  You will love the fellowship.

To accomplish a six-day caravan to reach every Rotary community, we again utilized Shoes Storage Hubs in Chillicothe and Liberty.  Fantastic idea.  Such great hospitality in those two Rotary communities, as well as in Maryville, Independence and in Kirksville to organize meals for us at lunch caravan stops.  My personal thanks to the Blue Springs club for the proclamation they had arranged.

So many of our Rotary Clubs had their newspaper representatives there to cover caravan stops.  Excellent.

Each of us owe a great amount of thanks to our partners at Buckner International in Dallas, Texas.  My friend Scott Collins and my friend Shawn Spurrier at Buckner combined to join us for the entire caravan.  This displays the real commitment to our combined partnership.   Buckner stewards our donations in an exemplary manner.

Each of us owe a great debt of gratitude to UPS, who assists us every year with the transport of the shoes to Dallas.  At this moment, our UPS trailer is at the Lenexa, KS Distribution Center, awaiting the move to Dallas.  By the way, if you ever wondered how long it takes to move our collections from our trailer to the UPS trailer – well, this year it was 29 minutes – probably 600 boxes were unloaded.!

I was amazed at the results to date this year.  Throughout the caravan, we heard your clubs saying it was a bit more difficult this year to find shoes to purchase, yet our clubs were resilient to find all the best shoes deals throughout north Missouri (and into Iowa and Kansas)!
To date, we have collected right at 13,500 pairs of shoes. 
To date, we have collected just over 3,000 pairs of socks.
To date, we have collected over 150 pairs of shoelaces.
To date, we have collected over $32,000 in checks and cash donations.  This is so significant, more cash than ever.  Uncommon generosity.  It is also indicative of clubs continuing to look for sources for shoes.

I hope you are proud to continue to be a part of such a great District Service Project.  And are proud that you are in a District that has such a ready-made, strong, District-wide, service project, that is international in focus, that all of us can do together.  That was the goal, 21 years ago.  You do it so well.

Over the next few weeks, we will work to take all the photos and video shoes roll call reports that were made at the 42 caravan stops, to produce something for your clubs to receive and show at a club meeting.  It should be helpful and could certainly serve as a club program.  Stay tuned, and I’ll keep you informed.
In our 21st anniversary year, I’m so pleased that every club – all 55 Rotary Clubs – participated in the project.  100% participation.  Awesome.  Kudos to all clubs, and particular kudos to the three clubs who set all-time highs with their shoes collection efforts this year --- Brookfield, Unionville, and Princeton.
Over the past 21 years, you have now collected nearly 385,000 pairs of shoes; over 45,000 pairs of socks; nearly 27,000 pairs of shoe laces; some shoe horns; some shoe spoons; and oh by the way, over $232,000 in cash.
We are helping so many children with something new, children we may never meet, just because. 
As we begin to think about international travel a bit more these days, we know there is much interest in another Rotary District 6040 Shoes Delivery Trip to a country served by Buckner.  Cassy Venters will be assisting me with gathering interest, and gathering information, so that you just might meet some of these children on a delivery trip.  Stay tuned.  Let me know if you, or others in your club,  have interest in traveling on a shoes delivery trip as early as 2023.

Share all this great news with your clubs this week.  Amazing.  Please accept my heartfelt “thank you”, and please thank the Rotarians in your clubs for me personally.   I am proud to be your shoes cheerleader.  As long as you are in, I am in.  (Yes, I added a 22nd thought, looking ahead to our 22nd year).
Thanks for showing what Service Above Self looks like.
Your proud shoes cheerleader,
Larry Lunsford