In the wake of tragedy, people must find a way to spread positivity. After Hanover resident Meg Menzies was killed by a drunk driver Jan. 13, 2014 while training for the Boston Marathon, thousands heard her story and felt her family’s pain. The life of this loving mother and wife has since inspired countless other acts of kindness.
Menzies’ memory lives on in a devoted community of loved ones and strangers, moved by her story, who run in her honor. Nearly 16,000 members have joined the Facebook group, Meg’s Miles Supporters, to share their running progress and offer words of encouragement to fellow Menzies supporters.
With the help of Meg’s Miles Supporters, Massachusetts resident Donald Dawson led an effort to collect 10,000 pairs of shoes for Syrians who have been impacted by the nation’s Civil War.
The shoe collection was originally intended to be donated to refugees in Greece, after Dawson was inspired by his friend Kel Kelly who had volunteered in the area last March. Kelly had posted online updates from abroad, including one post about the basic human right to own and wear shoes. Her volunteer experiences revealed that many people she encountered did not have access to shoes.
“We hit up every one of our friends, family and colleagues, and the local community here in Massachusetts,” Dawson said.
Thousands of donations came in from Massachusetts synagogues, churches and mosques. Groups and individuals shipped and dropped off more pairs of shoes for the cause.
“We got hundreds and hundreds of donations, yet still not enough,” Dawson said.
Kelly had become a part of the Meg’s Miles community when she created a shoe tree memorial to Menzies on the year of her passing at the Boston Marathon starting point.
Kelly posted online about the plan and need for shoe donations, which immediately attracted support. Robert Keith Cartwright and Menzies’s mother Pam Cross gathered over 4,000 shoe donation collections from Meg’s Miles Supporters.
“We met our goal and we are forever grateful to the Meg’s Miles community and all other donors for it,” Dawson said.
After six months of collecting shoes and navigating “red tape” the efforts were redirected to women, children and families located directly on the border of Syria and Turkey who have been displaced as a result of ongoing war.
Dawson’s goal was to fill a 20 foot by 20 foot container with as many shoes as could be collected.
The shoes were sent to NuDay Syria, a nonprofit organization which serves displaced Syrians and the areas bordering Syria. The organization focuses on providing housing and food to displaced Syrian families with single mothers or wounded family members.
NuDay Syria focuses particularly on safe shelter for single mothers with daughters, and improving displaced people’s quality of life through educational and financial opportunities.
“These are the folks who have no voice and nobody caring for them,” Dawson said. “We hope a good pair of shoes will provide some basic comfort to the people there.”
Dawson drove a U-Haul filled with the Meg’s Miles donated shoes back to Massachusetts before shipping them out to Syria.
“It was inspiring to see so many good people come together on short notice and put this donation together,” he said.
Dawson said that close to 100 other Meg’s Miles Supporters from across the country shipped him boxes of shoes to go towards the donation.
“My lofty goal would have never been reached if it wasn’t for the great group of people who do much good in the name of their friend Meg,” Dawson said.