At this time of year most of the Small Steps posts are all about The Celebrity Shoe Auction and in this blog I’m going to explain why. We are such a small charity that we divide the year into two: The summer we spend fundraising (when it is monsoon season in many of the countries where we work) and in the winter we deliver projects to children scavenging on the rubbish dumps.
The Celebrity Shoe Auction helps us to fund the projects we deliver, it also creates massive awareness because celebrities are well known and the problems of children on rubbish dumps are not.
There are so many people in the world who have more than enough and so many children that have nothing at all, and if those with more than enough spare a pair of shoes, it provides much needed and often life saving things for those children in desperate need.
The odd thing is that generally the more famous a celebrity becomes more free things they are given. When I was a show biz reporter most things were free to me: clubs, parties, drinks, food, presents, goody bags- even shoes. And I didn’t need them. But the poorer you are and the more unknown, the less you are given and helped. It is that imbalance that Small Steps Project is trying to redress.
So I would like to thank all those celebrities who have helped us by donating their shoesand for realising that they can use their position to do so much good. Fame and money doesn’t always make you happy but if you’ve got it, and you share it, it can certainly change lives. In the 70’s John Lenon sat in bed and used his celebrity to speak out against the Vietnam war. Today we have as many problems in the world and way more celebrities, with the power to change the world for the better. And I’m hoping for a few more Lenons and a few less Kim Kardashians.
On a recent episode of The Kardashian’s, Kim went through the expensive presents that Kanye West had sent her, and I felt a bit sick. If only she had used this opportunity to show her followers that it’s not how much money or material items you’ve got that counts, but what you can do with them to help others.
Kim does do stuff for charity, (though she admits that only 10% of her charity auction actually goes to charity) but as a viewer on the outside, the vulgar displays of wealth on her show far exceed her goodwill and I don’t find that much of an inspiration, which is a shame because her behavior inspires a whole generation of young women.
Some of the celebrities who have helped have really gone out of their way-Ronnie Wood a legend, a Rolling Stone, someone you would expect to be too busy for such things. Not only donated signed shoes but hand painted them.
Boy George donated a camera to us, when the office got robbed, so we were able to complete our documentary. And many of the celebrities who were involved last year have continued to support us by sending more shoes and tweeting about the project including, Ricky Gervais, Sienna Miller, Gemma Arterton, Brian May, Simon Pegg, Joanna Lumley and Kate Moss.
We are lucky enough to have Peter Egan narrating our next film, which will be screened at the London Celebrity Shoe Suction in a few weeks, and will feature some of the shoe donors who came down to the event including: Zandra Rhodes, Roger Lloyd Pack, Bill Oddie, Vicki Michele and James Purefoy.
Because we are so small and want to spend as much as we possibly can on the actual projects, we do the event on a tiny budget. But it is an amazing, glam and luxurious night, thanks to all the companies involved who have helped who have helped us for free AV- Event Production Services, Party Planners-Plain Jane, the venue- Jalouse, the caterers-Hundingers the ticket company Eventbrite and of course all the editors, photographers and volunteers who tirelessly email and call celebrities every day asking them if they would donate shoes.
But while all this fundraising and celebrity shoe mania is going on, so too is our outreach project. We want to make sure that the children we help are not left alone while we are raising the funds to help them. If we can raise enough money at this event we will be able to provide our next step- a children’s centre.
We’re doing this by partnering with other organisations near to the dump sites. There are shelters and schools to look after the children at some dumpsites in Cambodia, like at Stung Meacnchey in Phnom Penh, (PSE & CCF- where the founder Scott Neason, is himself a celebrity) as well as one Siem Reap (Friends International). But sometimes they have no help at all. At the dump site of Sihanoukville in Cambodia, there are approximately 20 children but no facility to care for them, where they can eat or get clean or ready for school and do their homework.
So this summer we partnered with another organisation, which does an incredible job of caring for all scavenger children at their centre- the Let Us Create- The Cambodian Children’s Painting Project.Together we have started an outreach project on the Sihanoukville dump so that the children on the dump are visited weekly and Small Steps Project funds this.Check out their Just Giving page, which is raising money for specifically this area.
Our next step is to start providing sustainable solutions for children on dumps where there are none by setting up centres and provisions where the children can have a safe place to play, receive medical care, and food, provide remedial education for those who are not ready for school, a creche for parents to leave their small children and babies while they scavenge…We hope that all these Jimmy Choos will help us to do this.
But we can’t do it without you, so if you are celebrity reading this- please spare a pair of shoes, and anyone else please buy a ticket. You coming out to the event and having a great night will result in us being able to provide a much better life for these children on the dump from this one night out, if enough people contribute something small, something big will happen.