A North Texas 11-year-old girl is making a lot of people smile this holiday season.
Instead of getting gifts for her birthday, Jaycee Bissell from Forney asked that her friends bring shoes to her party to donate to the less fortunate. She ended up receiving more pairs of shoes than anticipated.
The Bissell family garage has been transformed into a temporary shoe closet. With the help from her mom, Jaycee got her friends and family to donate 321 pairs of shoes.
“I just thought it was really, really cool how many shoes I collected,” the 11-year-old said.
Jaycee came up with the idea for a shoe drive when her mom asked her what she wanted to do to celebrate her eleventh birthday. The tween asked for new or gently used shoes in lieu of gifts to give to local charities.
Crystal, Jaycee’s mom, took to social media to spread the word. And on her birthday, the proud mother surprised Jaycee with the mother lode. She captured the moment on Facebook Live.
Jaycee says she had been thinking about doing a donation drive for some time.
“When I drive by places where there are homeless people, I feel bad for them and think what they don't have, what they don't get,” the 11-year-old said.
“When she told me that, I said, ‘Why do you want to do shoes and not toys?’” Crystal recalled. “And she said, ‘Well mom, toys are not something kids need. They need shoes.’”
The mother-daughter duo will spend the rest of the week sorting the shoes. The new pairs will be donated to the Forney Lions Club and Buckner International. The rest will go to homeless shelters in Dallas.
“There was just a bunch of tents under a bridge, and they call it Tent City,” Jaycee said. “And I felt bad for them because they don't have much stuff.”
Jaycee calls the outpouring of support "the best birthday gift ever."
“It makes me feel very proud of her— it really does,” Crystal said. “I hope she instills this in her friends.”