Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

A Social Enterprise for Souls and Shoes: Club GoBeDo

Jerri James

Jerri James is a mother, children’s author, speaker and the founder of The Orphan Campaign and Club GoBeDo (Go somewhere, Be a voice, Do something). Club GoBeDo is a social enterprise created to inspire, educate and facilitate selflessness, compassion and service in youth. The goal is simple: inspire 100,000 kids in the U.S. to give 100,000 pairs of shoes to orphans around the world in need.

After a successful career in real estate, James settled down and started a family. It was the birth of her children that transformed the direction of her life. She delved into children’s ministries and became active in the Parent Teacher Fellowship at her children’s school. Like many Americans, she considered herself a caring person who, as best she could, gave of her time and talents to ministries offshore. As she traveled abroad and experienced first-hand the pain of an orphaned child, James grappled with how to alleviate the pain of orphans and how to cultivate ‘others-focused’ children while living in a self-absorbed society.

Wanting to instill selflessness and compassion in her own children, James came to found The Orphan Campaign and Club GoBeDo, a social enterprise comprised of a series of entertaining and educational ideas and products. The events, ideas and products are designed to inspire children to give to orphans in need and, at the same time, through donations of shoes and percentages of profits, bring relief to orphans cared for by Buckner International and Shoes for Orphan Souls.

Club GoBeDo officially launched in September 2010. The free online kids’ club offers a variety of activities, games, resources and products to first create awareness of the needs of orphans, then to facilitate children to take action to help them. The first line of Club GoBeDo products (of which 10% of gross profits are donated directly to Shoes for Orphans Souls) that are designed to plant the seeds of a giving heart, includes:

  • Shoes – An inspiring children’s picture book written by Club GoBeDo Founder Jerri James and illustrated by Norma Samuelson. This is the lyrical story of Margaret Elizabeth, a young girl who looks in her closet and realizes she has lots of shoes, plenty in fact. Her heart is moved with compassion for others who are not as fortunate and she decides to do something about it.
  • Stiktures™ – Sticky-note pads with daily Bible scriptures that include 50 verses about serving and caring for others. Each sheet is designed as a powerful reminder of God’s love and care towards all people. Each day, parents are encouraged to stick a new sheet on bedroom walls, bathroom mirrors, refrigerators, car seats and kitchen tables to surround their children’s lives with beautiful verses on service and selflessness.
  • “Songs About Loving and Serving Others” Music CD – Acclaimed singer and songwriter, Mary Rice Hopkins partnered with Club GoBeDo to create this album as a fun and easy way to share the values of sharing, caring and loving others.
  • Cartoon – Club GoBeDo members are encouraged to watch a short cartoon to understand the true meaning of serving others: www.ClubGoBeDo.com
  • Speaking Engagements – Jerri James has been all around the world speaking to parents and children, including MOPS Groups, churches, school chapels and special women’s events. Jerri James and Mary Rice Hopkins also join together for children’s concerts and events, all reinforcing the message of serving and loving others.

The activities offered through Club GoBeDo include:

  • GoBeDo Birthday Club – At a shoe-themed birthday party, kids request their party guests bring shoes for orphans in lieu of gifts. Parties are filled with letter writing to orphans and coloring pictures to send to children around the world, followed by packing boxes in preparation for mailing.
  • Shoe Parades – Club GoBeDo members plan neighborhood sidewalk parades, school yard parades, church parades down the aisles and parking lots, and even shopping mall parades with various businesses joining in the fun to collect shoes for others.
  • Shoe Drives – Parents and children rally their friends, neighbors, family, schools, clubs and church groups to help orphans around the world.
  • GoBeDo GIVES – The non-profit affiliate of The Orphan Campaign and Club GoBeDo applies tax-deductible donations towards the purchase of shoes for orphans and at-risk children around the world. For every $30 donated, GoBeDo GIVES purchases one pair of shoes and gives them to its partners at Shoes for Orphan Souls to be faithfully delivered to children all over the world.

Having spent the last several years putting together the social enterprise model for Club GoBeDo, James credits the successful launch to perseverance and a focus on the purpose of the organization: serving others and doing the right thing. As for advice for other social entrepreneurs, James encourages them to double-check that what they’re doing aligns with God’s plan for their lives. As James puts it, “Our job as business leaders is to seek Him and do business according to His precepts. Becoming a woman after God’s own heart is my daily focus and goal. I don’t worry about growth and success because I know God has that in His hands.”

And with over 148 million orphaned children worldwide, as reported by UNICEF, there is certainly God’s work to be done. These millions of children need help fulfilling their most basic needs, including a pair of shoes to protect their feet. To date, Buckner International has given over two million pairs of shoes to orphans worldwide. Through the partnership with Club GoBeDo, the organizations plan to give many more shoes to orphans and bless children in the U.S. in the process. To learn more and join the movement, visit http://www.ClubGoBeDo.com.

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