“The Soul of My Footprint” Needs Your Help!
By Petra Gertjegerdes Myricks Columbus, GA –It’s time to let your heart move you to give!!! The Soul of My Footprint is going to Africa to give to people in need and they need your help! The Soul of My Footprint (TSOMF) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2001 by Mr. Alfie Jelks. And even though it is an international foundation, its home is based in Columbus, Georgia. The primary goals of The Soul of My Footprint are the dissemination of provisional supplies of medicine, shoes, clothing, and basic care items for the people of Jinja, Uganda. Also on their agenda is the provision of statewide scholarships for academically astute high school seniors planning a major related to science, social services, education, theology, or non-profit work with origins of philanthropic means in order to further carry out the primary objectives of the organization. Between September 15-22, 2014, TSOMF will be going back to Uganda, Africa and giving to people in need. They are conducting a shoe drive within the Columbus, Georgia and surrounding areas in hopes of collecting 1000 pairs of shoes to be personally delivered to the people of Jinja, Uganda. In addition to the shoe delivery, they will be sending a medical contingent consisting of dentists and dental hygienists to provide basic dental care. TSOMF is also accepting very much-needed monetary donations, toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss. Many things that we take for granted and can go pick up at the “dollar store” are items that many of the people receiving donations, don’t have. I must admit, before I became involved with TSOMF, I never thought about the needs of people in Africa, especially many children, who are deprived of things such as toothbrushes and shoes because of the “third world” conditions. I have the privilege to join TSOMF and my good friend, Alfie on this trip. I will be documenting the journey and instructing young girls on self-esteem. I am very excited, and I am even more determined to get our readers to help support TSOMF and its endeavors. A shoe drive in 2007 was successful; the last time Alfie visited Africa he brought 1,000 pairs of shoes with him and when he returns this year, his goal is to bring that and much more. He knows that the community will come together, just as last time, to donate cash donations, shoes and other items freely. “We need donations to help ship the shoes. I can’t take them with me on the flight. If there is a group or company that wants to help us cover the shipping cost, we would love to talk to them,” he said. Money is also needed to pay for the many expenses incurred by international traveling. “I want to have a medical team to help the people,” said Alfie. He has gotten Dr. Henry Cook, II, a hygienist and some dental assistants on board, and he is looking to get a physician to come along, also. The group is scheduled to leave Sept. 15, so if you are a doctor and interested, please give him a call. Dr. Cook has not been to Uganda before, but has been on mission trips to other African countries. As a medical student, he spent several months in Zambia in 1995. Dr. Cook knows these people need the help so when Alfie mentioned this trip, Dr. Cook told him that he could count on him. There is a T-Shirt Drive currently being conducted by TSOMF and for a donation of just $30, you can get a T-shirt to support the cause. Alfie said Walmart has already donated boxes of shoes, and any donation you want to give may be made at his store, Alfie’s African Treasures. They are accepting shoes or like new shoes. He doesn’t want to give these good people something he wouldn’t wear. He expressed that while collecting for the last trip, some people donated overly used items, thinking that just because these people are poor, that they will wear anything. He said people in Uganda would rather earn what they need, but many can’t. He admits there is poverty in America, but there is a system to help those who are hungry, sick or need a place to sleep. And most people in America have shoes, and it is easier to get a pair of shoes than in Uganda. “I have seen children, in Africa, who have to walk everywhere, including school, with no shoes. There is no system there, no safe haven,” he said. “They simply can’t afford the basics.” Alfie enjoys being with the people that he visits in Uganda. “They are very warm. It excites them to know somebody in another part of the world cares about them,” says Alfie. When visiting, he also encourages the people with speeches of hope and faith. When he went the first time, bringing just a few hygiene items, he said he was shocked by the poverty he saw and he still gets shocked to this day. But he said the people there are not depressed by their lack of possessions or services. They love life regardless. Alfie believes that helping the needy, especially those in Uganda, is what he is meant to do. “I believe most people spend their life searching for a purpose. God defined my life for me,” he said. WLTZ television news anchor and the host of The Dee Armstrong Show, Ms. Dee Armstrong is a member of the board of TSOMF and is going to Africa with Alfie. They have been friends for many years and she wants to support him and his mission. She will film in Uganda and show it on The Dee Armstrong Show. About Alfie B. Jelks Alfie is the second child of three siblings, who were raised by an inspiring single mother, Ms. Laura West from Tuskegee, AL. Alfie attended school in Muscogee County and graduated from Kendrick High School in 1986. He continued his education at Chattahoochee Valley Community College with an AS in Health, Physical Education and Recreation and at Troy University with a BS in Theology. On November 9, 2009, Alfie was commissioned in the United States Army Reserve as a chaplain. He earned a Master’s Degree in Theology from Liberty University. In 2000, he started his humanitarian journey to Jinja, Uganda, with only one credit card, no sponsors and no personal ties to anyone there; needless to say, this task was simply “faith-driven”. Seeking to literally clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and impart faith and hope to the weary and downtrodden, Alfie made a second trip to Africa in 2001. In March 2007, he made a third trip, but not before getting the city of Columbus and surrounding areas involved. As a result, over one thousand pairs of shoes were donated to the people of Jinja, Uganda. Alfie opened Alfie’s African Treasures in June 2001, selling rare and unique African artifacts and Greek/Fraternal paraphernalia. Because of the success of the boutique, Alfie created Alfie’s African Treasures’ Annual Cultural Show (a stage for African Americans to display their gifts and talents and for the youth to be exposed to culture). Alfie has exposed Muscogee County students, teachers and the community to the African Culture, by going into schools and other organizations, teaching the audiences about what he has experienced first hand. Some of his local contributions include: Boys and Girls Club, Big Brother Big Sisters of Columbus, Wellness Center, Columbus State University’s African Student Organization, Black History Museum, The Columbus Times Newspaper and the Anne Elizabeth Shepherd Home. He is currently a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserve and an assistant pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Columbus. His mantra is “People should desire to be great and not just successful, because great people serve others, while successful people only serve themselves.” He has one son. Alfie said that when people go somewhere, they should leave things better than they found them. “You should leave your footprint,” he said. “You have to have a soul for others.” REMEMBER: Get Your T-Shirt Today! There is a T-Shirt fundraiser going on now and everyone needs to donate $30 so you can be a part of this wonderful cause. Go to www.tsomf.org and find out how to receive your shirt as a dedicated delegation prepares to bring supplies and hope to people in Uganda. The trip is Sept 15-22, 2014 and The Soul of my Footprint needs your support. You can reach Alfie at 706-718-1371 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about The Soul of My Footprint, visit the website at www.tsomf.org. Or you can also visit Alfie’s African Treasures at 2901 University Avenue, Mission Square, Suite 42, Columbus, GA 31907 and bring donations in person there or mail them.