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MCI Student Putting His Best Foot Forward To Spread Kindness 

A senior at MCI High School in Pittsfield is trying to inspire people in his community to practice daily acts of kindness. He’s hoping his latest act will help kids that are struggling thousands of miles away.Sammy Gachagua first arrived to MCI in 2009 at the beginning of his sophomore year as a scholarship student from Kenya. “When I first got here it was really challenging because I was mostly used to just African students and not a lot of diversity,” he said.Now in his senior year, Sammy and his classmates have been assigned a senior project. They must spend at least 40 hours working on a project that relates to their future plans. For Sammy that was easy since his future plans involve a simple concept. Helping people. “I want to be a humanitarian to help people in their future lives.”For Sammy, there’s no better place to begin then in his own homeland. Back in his native country, much like here in the U.S., kids are required to wear shoes to attend school. The problem is in Kenya thousands of kids can’t afford shoes. He says there’s only one shoe manufacturer in all of Africa. So Sammy has taken up a collection. Collecting shoes to be exact. He’s set out buckets all over campus asking for people to drop off their new or unwanted shoes. Shoes that in Kenya, can be the key to an education. “That’s why I’m trying to raise some shoes so that we can give them to this orphanage that houses about 180 students. And then they can at least get to go to school.”He hopes to collect 5000 pairs, a lofty goal, but one that Jodi McGary, an MCI Social Worker who is overseeing the project, is confident he’ll reach. “Sammy achieves his goals. He’s remarkable,” she said Friday.Sammy says collecting the shoes is just a small part of a larger project. He’s challenging everyone in his community to practice an act of kindness every day. “I want people to learn how to be kind from the feet up,” he says. “I have grown up being shown a lot of kindness and this is what I’ve grown up in. I want people to know that changing the world starts from who you are.”People who want to donate shoes can drop them off at any of the labeled bins on the MCI campus in Pittsfield. All Sammy asks is that, if they’re used shoes they’re still in decent condition, and they’re tied together to make it easier to ship them.He’s also hoping to get some help with the shipping costs. The shipping cost is estimated to be around $5000.Sammy has already organized one fundraiser. He’s hosting a race on May 12th at MCI beginning at 8:00 in the morning. It starts with a “Kid’s Race” and around 8:45 a 5K run starts. The cost is $25 on race day or $20 if you preregister. More information is available at Sammy’s Facebook page, “MCI Random Acts of Kindness.”Or you can mail a donation to:Maine Central InstituteShoe Drive295 Main StreetPittsfield 04967Or visit the website: www.mci-school.org/giveYou can also follow Sammy on Twitter: @kenyanboe