“New shoes!” was the rallying cry
It was an 80-degree summer day, but Tanya Krien was researching organizations that provide winter coats to children.
“Winter coats are always a huge need with our families,” Tanya, a vice president of early childhood education at The Child Center of NY, explains.
That’s when she came across Soles4Souls—a nonprofit organization that provides not winter coats, but footwear, which is another ever-present need for families with children in a Child Center early childhood education program, such as Head Start and Early Head Start.
Tanya connected with Soles4Souls Vice President for Outreach Tiffany Turner, who quickly offered to ship us 250 pairs of shoes and 500 pairs of socks for children at our early childhood centers.
Amazingly, Soles4Souls’ generosity didn’t stop there.
Soles4Souls turns surplus shoes and clothing into opportunity by keeping them from going to waste and putting them to good use. An adequate pair of shoes protects people against bacteria, parasites, and other illnesses; allows adults to go on interviews and to work, and children to go to school; and provides a sense of dignity that they deserve.
Part of Soles4Souls’ paradigm is working with local partners that have earned trust in the community.
Seeking a personal connection to our communities after the initial shipment of shoes and socks, members of the Soles4Souls team came out to The Child Center’s Head Start Corona program, where they provided a brand-new pair of shoes for free to every one of the more than 130 enrolled children.
The event took place earlier this month and was a huge success with lots of smiling faces.
An energy of excitement filled the air as children chanted, “New shoes! New shoes!”
Socks were donated by Bombas, and the shoes included brands such as Reebok, Vans, Nike, Converse, and Cardi B (the children couldn’t believe they were getting shoes designed by a celebrity!). The children had a great time perusing the selection, examining the colors and styles, trying on the ones they liked, assessing the fit, and showing their choices to their friends. They enjoyed walking around the classroom in a new pair of shoes that fit them and that they were happy with—which is exactly the experience we all want and expect for our children.
In total, 203 pairs of shoes were distributed, plus 538 pairs of socks, including socks for parents.
“Best quote of the day from the mouth of a 4-year-old: ‘I can’t wait to give my mom these new socks because she really needs them,’” Tanya says. “The event went off without a hitch thanks to the amazing team of people who helped put this together.”
Eleven folks from the Soles4Souls team served as volunteers, assisting the children in selecting and trying on shoes. The team included Soles4Souls board members, along with members of their senior team, including CEO Buddy Teaster; Chief Business Development Officer Nancy Youssef; and Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships Robin Wagher.
“It was such a pleasure to have the Soles4Souls team and board at our program and to see the beautiful smiles and interactions that took place,” says Child Center Vice President of Communications Brigid Mitchel. “It was very meaningful to our families and to all of us at The Child Center.”
“Children’s feet never stop growing, often needing new shoes every few months,” Tanya notes. “Shoes can be expensive. This event allowed parents to use their earnings for other necessities. Having adequate, properly fitting shoes enables children to participate in important gross motor learning opportunities and helps them learn how to coordinate and control their body movements. We are so grateful to Soles4Souls for enhancing our children’s development in this unique and generous way.”
Update: We just received an additional 2,500 pairs of Bombas socks from Soles4Souls, and another 200 pairs of shoes are on the way! They will be sending more shoes in the fall, when the school year starts and new children enroll. Thank you, Soles4Souls!