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Jonesboro students donate denim to help combat foot parasite

December 31, 2018

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Imagine not having shoes and being exposed to a flea infestation that requires slicing open your feet with a sharp razor to remove egg sacks just so you can walk.

Some Ugandans suffer from attacks by chigoe fleas, also known as Jiggers, which burrow into the soles of a person’s feet and create a disgusting sight. They create blisters and boil-like welts on the soles of the feet and any other affected areas. But one Jonesboro class of sixth-graders is trying to do something to help.

Mary Clayton’s class is tracing and cutting out pieces of denim to make shoes to help those impacted by the insect attacks, the Jonesboro Sun reported.

Clayton, sixth-grade teacher at Jonesboro’s International Studies magnet school, is having her students trace and cut out pieces of denim from used jeans to send to Uganda.

She showed the students a video about Jiggers from Sole Hope’s website. The video comes with a warning about graphic content before showing the impact of Jiggers and what the bugs’ effect on people looks like.

“It is very gross,” she said. “But it’s also what you think about with those kids who can’t walk or the elderly, the man who was walking and he could hardly walk because his feet are hurting so badly.”

Jiggers make walking difficult and painful. The bugs lay their eggs under the skin, causing itching and swelling on the soles of a person’s foot. Once inside, they swell up to 1,000 times their size, according to Sole Hope. The organization helps clean the feet of those infected by cutting out the egg sacks from the host.

Sole Hope will also combine the denim pieces donated by Clayton’s students with old tires — which are used to make the soles — to create the shoes for them.

“They’re like fleas on your dog,” Clayton said.

Sixth-grader Easton McDaniel said she learned she should always give. She noted how she enjoys helping with the project.

“This is a fun thing for our class, and I feel it’s a good thing for our class,” Easton said. “We’ve been really excited to do it.”

Sixth-grader Evie Moreno said after starting the project on a recent Tuesday morning she learned there are more people than just her and those around her such as her family and friends. She said there are more people who need.

“We need to give to them instead of just buying for us,” Evie said.

Easton said tracing and cutting out the denim is easy. She also said everyone should give.

“I would love to do this again,” Evie said enthusiastically.

Addison Ellis said she learned Jiggers is a real problem and that people need her help and the help of others.

“I’m not the center of the universe,” she said. “Other people have problems, too.”

Olivia Conger said she likes the project because she likes knowing she is able to help others around the world.

“Even if it’s doing a little thing like this, it means a lot,” Addison said.

Before the students cleaned up the scraps of denim, Clayton made an announcement to the class.

“Your job is to be a student and get good grades,” she said. “But sometimes you have to do more.”

Clayton said her class was reading the book “Refugee” by Alan Gratz. The class was reading it as part of Global Read Aloud, which is a community between other countries where they read the same book.

“It just fit together,” she said about the book and the Sole Hope project.

Clayton said the parents have been enthusiastic about how the school took part in the shoe project. She said they have donated money and old blue jeans for the cause. Once the students cut out the denim, she will send it off to the organization, which will make the tops of the shoes out of the denim and soles out of old tires.

“They like when we make their learning real,” she said.

She said the school is accepting donations on behalf of the project via cash or check.

“We don’t realize how lucky we are,” she said.

She said she timed the project so it would be around Christmastime.

“You want a new phone?” she said. “Or you want a new Xbox? But these people just want a decent pair of shoes so they can walk.”

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Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com