We’ve been writing about “Shoes 4 the Shoeless” for some years now. The non-profit organization, started in 2010 by a small group of people led by Kris Horlacher, aims to provide a new pair of correctly fitted gym shoes and socks to every student in our area who desperately needs them. Underwear is also collected and donated.
Horlacher, a nurse, says that conservative estimates say there are at least 15,000 kids today who are wearing shoes that would break your heart.
“They are wearing shoes that don’t come close to fitting, causing permanent damage to their feet,” she said.” Even in the coldest, wettest weather, they do not have socks to wear. Many of the same kids who don’t own socks, also do not own underwear.”
Here’s a sad excerpt from the organization’s blog: “Kids wearing shoes 3-4 sizes too small or large used to shock us. Shoes full of holes or totally lacking soles used to take us by surprise, but now we are used to these sights. Every week we see injured, painful and deformed feet. …These are constant reminders of why Shoes 4 the Shoeless exists.”
Horlacher says S4tS is a unique organization that has partnered with almost every school district, social agency and organization in our region that serves the poor. The need is never-ending, she says, because elementary-age kids outgrow their shoes an average of three times each year, high school kids outgrow them up to two times a year.
“The challenges that come with being the only organization working to meet this need are many, but we have met with much success,” she said. “In the last four years, over 14,3000 local kids have received help. Our goal for 2013 is to help 4,000 more.”
Here’s how it works: Teams of trained volunteers go into schools where referrals have been made and work one-on-one children to measure their feet, and fit them with a brand new pair of gym shoes and socks. Hundreds of shoes are transported to each school ensuring each child receives their shoes on the spot.
Hundreds of pairs of underwear are left behind in each school to be passed out as needed.
The organization made news a couple of years ago as a $50,000 grant winner in the national Pepsi Refresh competition.
Please note that the faith-based Christian organization does include a copy of the New Testament in every box of shoes that are delivered. Horlacher says the Bibles “are a bonus and not an attempt to proselytize, they’re merely our way of sharing hope with all we encounter” and that she’s happy to answer questions about that policy.
New gym shoes or underwear in any size can be dropped off at the Dayton Mall at the Customer Service desk. Socks are not needed at this time.
Volunteers are always needed, if you’re interested, e-mail Horlacher: Kris.Horlacher@gmail.com
The organization’s web-page is www.shoes4theshoeless.org. Donations are accepted through Paypal.
A family-friendly walk to benefit the organization will be led by Santa on Nov. 23.
HELPING OUR COMMUNITY MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Make a Difference publishes the wish lists of nonprofit organizations, connecting our readers with those groups that are in need of new or gently used items. If your organization would like to be included, send details to Meredith Moss: MMoss@coxohio.com Please include a daytime phone number.