SAN ANTONIO — The tally of shoes collected by the Churchill High School parliament was not their goal. But, the number was still satisfying.
"It was still a very successful drive, and still proud of Churchill and all of NEISD for pitching in," Gabe Wolf said.
Gabe is the group's outgoing Prime Minister (Student government president). He spearheaded their effort to collect 61,000 shoes to break the world record for single-line shoes.
The 18-year-old didn't have to beat the drums of his imagination to come up with the challenge. His eldest brother, Mickey, attempted the same record eight years ago.
"So when they did it in 2014, which was when my oldest brother was the prime minister, they just wanted to break any world record," Gabe said.
At Churchill, the educators are familiar with the Wolf brothers. Gabe is the youngest, and every one of the brothers were involved in the school's parliament.
"So, I was here originally when Mickey started the shoe drive," Wyndi Charlton said.
Charlton is one of the parliament sponsors. She's been at the school for 11 years.
Mickey, they said, tried to collect 25,000 shoes to line heel-to-toe on the football field for the single-line shoe record in the Guinness Book of World Records. He collected 17,000, and baby brother Gabe even helped.
"That was just a super fun environment and really brought the community together over a span of a few months, which was cool," Gabe said.
In February, Gabe and the student leaders started the drive. They would collect the shoes and donate them to Souls 4 Soles. The deadline was the end of April with the hope of spreading the shoes all across their football field.
And the senior admitted he had a bet going on with his older brother. As the shoes came in, a student at the school needed a pair, and the group immediately obliged.
"Churchill parliament just wants to help out the community, and I think we really did that in a great way," Charlton said.
They set out bins at participating Northeast ISD schools, businesses and other locations.
"We reached out to HOAs. We had pick-ups throughout our neighborhoods," Gabe said. "We had our parents reaching out to their coworkers and their friends. I had a bin set up at my house where anyone could drop off."
Under Gabe's leadership, the students collected shoes from Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. They gathered more than 5,000, and it led to a massive lesson in logistics, pivoting and moral victories.
"Even if you don't succeed in reaching your original goal, you may succeed in other areas," Gabe said.
He wished they had more time, because toward their deadline, the donations increased.
"We still have people who have shoes at home, or know people who want to donate. And we just need to pick up more shoes," he said.
Charlton will remember the chaotic moments of this drive, and she'll also recall Gabe's leadership, and the students stepping into action.
"Their heart and their dedication to things that they don't have to do," she said. "They do it because they want to do it."