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Shoes for Africa: Instead of seeking gifts, girl asks party guests to help others

Shoes for Africa: Instead of seeking gifts, girl asks party guests to help others


A 7-year-old Bismarck girl sent the items she received at her birthday party to children she has never met — halfway around the world.

For her seventh birthday, Makenna Burchinal asked her party guests to simply bring a pair of new or used shoes instead of gifts to her birthday party March 3.

The party involved swimming, pizza and friends. But instead of opening presents after blowing out her candles, Makenna gathered the donated pairs of shoes to send to children in Africa.

“What 7-year-old wants to donate? Most 7-year-olds want presents,” said Kim Speckmann, a mother of one of the party guests. “We need more kids ... more people like that in the world.”

Speckmann asked Makenna whose idea it was to donate shoes to Africa instead of receiving gifts, and Makenna told her she had seen a commercial about kids overseas that sparked the idea.

“I actually really wanted shoes to send to Africa instead of getting presents,” Makenna said.

Her dad, Josh Burchinal, also was pleasantly surprised when his daughter told him about her birthday wishes.

“It was pretty surprising,” Josh Burchinal said. “I asked her if it was somebody else’s idea and she said it was hers.”

About 56 pairs of shoes donated by party guests, friends, family and neighbors are being sent to Africa through the God’s Child Project and other local charities.

“We appreciate all the people who donated shoes,” Josh Burchinal said.

If you would like to donate a pair of shoes or help send the shoes to Africa, contact Josh Burchinal at

Lexi Jorgenson is an intern at the Bismarck Tribune. Reach Lexi Jorgenson at 701-250-8256 or


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