During designated days in the last week of January and first week of February, children screened and identified by social workers from the participating schools traveled by bus to be measured and outfitted with new shoes and two pairs of athletic socks. Chairman Tish McFarren and Vice Chairman Cathy Weimer directed the well-organized operation with skill and a sense of humor.
Assistance League of Indianapolis purchases new athletic shoes at a discounted price from local store retailer Shoe Carnival. When students arrive, Shoe Carnival personnel measure their feet, and then make sure they choose a shoe style that fits correctly. The process is facilitated by Assistance League member volunteers who guide the children to each “station” and keep the process moving along smoothly.
Social workers attending with the children were also given a bag of warm and cozy caps to be distributed upon returning to their schools. The hats were donated by Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Blake Bolden; Executive Director, Casey Collins; Community Outreach Manager, and Camille Estes; Participant Relations Manager paid a visit and saw firsthand the appreciation the students and school personnel had for their gift of caps.
Another welcome visitor was Rhoderick Wheeler from the Central Indiana Community Foundation. Community partnerships forged with organizations such as this lead to increased ideas and resources that help Assistance League continue its mission commitment of caring to underserved adults and children in the Indianapolis community.
When the students were boarding their buses with their new shoes and socks, large smiles were everywhere. Surveys from parents and social workers have conveyed that the gift of a new pair of shoes is a help to struggling families. One social worker shared that a mother had called her to let her know that her children were so excited to get their new shoes, they slept in them all night.
The number of students served by this program over both semesters totaled 2,742, and the need continues to grow. For a gift of just $25 dollars, you can provide a child with a new pair of athletic shoes, two pairs of socks, and a grin of happiness.
To Donate to Shoes: A Division of Operation School Bell, Click HERE