Ashley Kalbac is on a mission to collect shoes for the needy

By Gloria Burns….

Ashley with shoes she has collected for less fortunate.

Ashley Kalbac has spent countless hours working in her local community to collect shoes for distribution to people who live in a remote area of Peru’s Andes Mountains. Kalbac discovered the people’s need for shoes when she worked with the Kausay Wasi Clinic there and learned that patients often wait for months to see a doctor for medical care.

Kalbac keeps a daily journal of her work in Peru to help document the misery of the people she encounters. One entry recounts her encounter with a young girl who came to the clinic in very bad medical condition.

“She walked barefoot for four days with her mother in the winter through the Andes Mountains to the Kausay Wasi Clinic in dire need of medical care,” the entry reads. “That is when I met 13-year old Marissa, a native Peruvian girl who had disfigured feet because she had to walk through a raging brush fire as a young child. It was then that my heart broke for Marissa after seeing her painful gait and deformed feet. Marissa’s hopes had been crushed once before when another surgical team would not operate on her misshapen feet fearing a poor outcome.

“Because of her mother’s pleading, our medical team decided to tackle the risky surgeries that would allow her a chance to walk normal and pain free. With the team’s compassionate hearts and medical expertise, the surgery was a success. As a 16- member surgical team offering advanced medical care to a remote region, we were there to help people who might not have received medical care otherwise.

“After meeting Marissa and many other people there who suffered with foot problems due to inadequate shoes, I wanted to provide a solution. With the help of my school, Palmer Trinity, my family and friends, I collected hundreds of pairs of shoes. They were sent to Peru and to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, and most recently to the homeless in Miami through Caring for Miami.

“Caring for Miami seeks to connect resources and volunteers to the under resourced and hurting of Miami-Dade County through the demonstration of Christ’s love. What started as a way to help those in the remote areas of Peru acted as a catalyst to help those in our own backyard and a reminder of how blessed we are.”

While Kalbac looks forward to a return visit to the clinic deep in the Andes Mountains, she continues to collect shoes for those less fortunate in our community, Haiti and Peru. She is an inspiring young person, who is destined to make the world a better place with her generous spirit and compassion.

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About the Author

Gloria Burns
A graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Spanish, Burns has an extensive background in advertising, marketing and reciprocal trade, travel as well as non profit consulting and management. Burns' volunteer activities led her to become a columnist writing Gloria’s Gab, a column that focuses on the non-profit activity. Burns was Executive Director of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee for 6 years and then served as the first Executive Director of Coral Gables Community Foundation for 14 years after which she helped the emerging Community Foundation of Pinecrest. Active in many non profits, she received the 2015-16 President's Best Member Award from the GFWC Coral Gables Woman's Club, 2012-13 CGWC Leadership Award, 2012-2013 Rotarian of the Year Award as RCCG Public Relations Chair and Fund raising Co-Chair, 2011 Florida Federation of Women’s Club Volunteer of the Year for the District 11 and honored by the City of Doral as one of their first recipients for the Doralian Women's Award. Among her list of current responsibilities, Burns co-chairs two annual student recognition breakfasts for the Coral Gables Friends of Education; helps coordinate charity partners for the Westin Colonnade's Annual Give Kids the World Breakfast; serves on the board of directors of Doral Business Council; is Parliamentarian and serves on the board of the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club; serves the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables and is Publicity Chair; and is a member of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee. Gloria is also an active member of the Music Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church where sings sings in the choir. She can be reached at

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