Nearly 300 students at Springfield elementary school receive free new shoes

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Shoes 4 the Shoeless

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

All 281 students at Fulton Elementary School in Springfield received a new free pair of shoes courtesy of a local non-profit.

Shoes 4 the Shoeless, a non-profit focused on providing new, correctly fitting gym shoes and socks to children in the region, donated the tennis shoes to the students last week.

The organization has worked with the Springfield City School District since the summer of the 2017-18 school year, said lead school nurse with the district and event organizer Ashley Wilson.

“It is the most heartwarming experience to see kids get these new shoes,” Wilson said. “We see kids jump up and down and run up and down the gym to make sure they fit. One student said it felt like he was walking on a cloud.”

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Wilson said the organization is scheduled to donate shoes to 12 different schools within the district this year, however, events are not open to the public.

“Because we can’t announce the events to the public, in order to find volunteers to help out I have to personally reach out to organizations or groups- like employees, employees family members, our ROTC program, sports, band, orchestra,” Wilson said.

Having older students involved in school activities like sports and ROTC, help students get fitted for their shoes is a great way to help students build empathy, Wilson said.

“I have seen kids walk past five adults in order to have a football player help them instead,” Wilson said. “To see them running around with them, testing the shoes, it’s just like instant gratification.”

Jonathan Hauge, director of engagement and fundraising for the Shoes 4 the Shoeless, said the average purchasing price of each shoe fell between $15 to $20.

“If we are giving out 300 shoes, it’s a little over a $5,000 investment in each school,” Hauge said.

But it’s an investment Shoes 4 The Shoeless is happy to make, Hauge said.

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“When you think about poverty, a lot of time if a family is in poverty they will care about getting clothes on their kids backs and food to eat and that there is a roof over their head and electric and water, those necessities,” Haugh said. “Unfortunately something like shoes and socks are forgotten about. So Johnny is in a pair of shoes that, maybe he can walk in but he can’t run because they are too big. Or another kid’s are too small. Or mom did her best and duct taped them together.”

Having worn down shoes could cause students to have wet, cold feet while walking to school, Haugh said, or could use physical damage that can stick with a child forever.

“We are happy that we are able to help eliminate one of poverty’s most visible stigmas, and allow these kids to just be kids. To run around and play and fully participate in school,” Hauge said.

Since it’s founding in 2010, Shoes 4 The Shoeless has delivered over 85,000 pairs of shoes and socks to disadvantaged children within the Dayton region. This year, the organization is slated to give out its 100,000 pair of shoes, Hauge said.

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