One-Hundred Participants Donate Shoes, Write Notes to First Responders to Honor MLK

January 22, 2021

Over 100 students, faculty, staff and community members gathered on the Martin Luther King Day of Service to volunteer, virtually. The event, which historically takes place at NOVA’s Alexandria Campus, was moved online as all events are currently virtual. The theme for the virtual day of service was, ‘Taking a Stand for Service: Three Ways to Take a Step Toward Service and Justice.’ The College held a series of digital community events and service projects to benefit NOVA students, community residents and the medical/first responder population in the area.

 Shoes collected for donation.

Before the event, there was a service project where individuals were able purge their closets of old shoes and donate them to Soles4Souls, in which Zappos offered free printable labels to ship them. Donors would just need to drop their filled boxes at their local UPS store and then share the number of shoes donated.

NOVA has participated in the MLK Day of Service for 12 years, partnering with nonprofit organizations and encouraging students and the community to volunteer. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., NOVA offered three different experiences during the day to not only give back to the community but to also teach others about the history of perseverance and the struggle for civil rights.

This year’s keynote speaker was Tiffney T. Laing, founder and CEO of the award-winning educational toy company, Bevy and Dave. Other presenters included; Kim B. Miller, a NOVA graduate and Prince William County poet laureate; Nicole Tong, a NOVA professor and Fairfax County poet laureate; as well as authors Karen Cuthrall (The Feelings Company), Sharon Cruikshank (Booklady 162) and Nichole Jackson (The Adventures of Dash Jackson).

In addition to the pre-event shoe donation, dozens participated in writing heartfelt thank you notes to first responders, caretakers, senior citizens and students from NOVA’s Medical Education Campus who are preparing for careers in the health fields. Attendees also participated in a virtual family writer's workshop featuring local authors and poets. The programming ended with a virtual 5K with NOVA’s Athletic Director Cecil Jackson.

Donations of shoes are ongoing, and shipping labels from Zappos can be printed at For more information on how to document the shoe-count and continue to donate, please contact Kirstin Riddick at

Topics: press release