SEATTLE — From Duck Dynasty to Dancing with the Stars, 18-year-old Sadie Robertson is used to the spotlight. Now, she is bringing light to a worthy cause: fighting poverty. The 18-year old recently embarked on a journey to Guatemala for a “boot drop” with Roma Boots.
Samuel Bistrian, an immigrant from Romania, started Roma Boots in 2010 in Dallas, Texas. It is a socially conscious company with a mission to bring “hope, love and lasting change” to street children and orphans around the world. For every pair of boots sold, Roma Boots donates a new pair to a child in need at one of its many “boot drop” events.
While bringing footwear to children is not the most obvious way to fight poverty, it prevents a whole host of debilitating conditions and parasitic infections. Bistrian himself came to the U.S. as a refugee and he remembered the pain of playing without shoes. He also keenly remembers children who lost their toes due to frostbite.
Additionally, going barefoot exposes children to hookworm, podoconiosis (mossy foot), schistosomiasis and tungiasis. Most of these diseases are rare in the United States, but occur all over Africa and the developing world where children lack adequate footwear. A sturdy pair of boots is more than sufficient to prevent the parasites that cause these conditions from entering through the skin.
To combat poverty and to improve the lives of children everywhere, Sadie Robertson announced the creation of her own line of Roma “Live Original” rain boots last fall. To her two million followers, she tweeted, “We are going to give poverty the boot. So honored to be a part of a great way to give back. #givepovertytheboot.”
Roma Boots has brought rain boots to thousands of children in over 20 countries across six continents in the last four years. Besides Guatemala, they have done boot drops in Kenya, Ghana, Moldova, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Nepal, the Philippines, China, Mongolia, India, Armenia, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Haiti, Romania and the United States. Each year, the list grows longer, and bringing in Robertson is sure to help grow the organization even more.
Fame can lead young people astray, but for Sadie Robertson, it is a way to illuminate the lives of others. In an interview with the Christian Post a year ago, she said, “I think it’s important for people to go out and see how bad others have it, how good you have it and the ways you can help them. I think it’s really important to help and to give back so you can view people as your neighbor and love them as your neighbor.”
A year later, Robertson has shown the strength of her belief. She’s teamed up with Roma Boots, developed her own poverty fighting product line, and spent time giving back to children who need it most. At the age of only 18, Sadie Robertson has become a force for change, and with more people like her, perhaps humanity will be able to give poverty the boot.