GRAPEVINE -- Cannon Elementary students not only have been learning about what it's like to be barefoot and needy in poor areas of the world, but they've also collected shoes to protect some of those sore and dusty feet.
"We have close to 1,100 pairs," Assistant Principal Anne Ricci said as she showed off the footwear being packed up in the auditorium.
Pink jelly slippers, athletic shoes, suede boots and brown loafers of all sizes, some new and others gently used, lined the steps.
The students began collecting shoes in early December for the international Soles4Souls project. The drive officially ended Dec. 19 with 1,127 pairs.
"Our original goal was to collect 350 pairs," Ricci said. "Within days, we had to bump that up to 450. Not long after that, our fifth-graders, who were in charge of counting, tallied 700. And now we're up to 1,100."
The fifth-graders created a graph to keep track of the donated shoes. Each grade did a shoe-inspired design.
"We made a slipper out of pink felt, pompom balls and some Christmasy ribbon," kindergartner Audrey Torres said.
First-graders deconstructed old shoes to make Christmas ornaments, and second-graders made shoes with a patriotic theme.
"We had to use shapes, like hexagons, triangles and rectangles, to make our shoes," third-grader Caleb Miles said. "I tried to make a tennis shoe, but it turned out to be more like a weird slipper."
Fifth-graders wired ordinary shoes to light up.
"Our school wants to focus on more project-based learning," Ricci said.
The students also learned things about the shoe recipients that have nothing to do with science or construction.
"When they put them on, there'll be a smile on their face because they can't go to school without shoes," fifth-grader Jade Teeuwen said.
Judah Juarez, a second-grader, worried that without the shoes, barefoot people might step on rocks and hurt themselves.
Fifth-grader Christopher Rios said: "It just means a lot to them that we're helping them. And it means a lot to us, too."
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657