NEW PARIS — Shoes for the Shoeless is a non-profit organization based out of Dayton which has been making its way through Preble County schools this spring. Shoes for the Shoeless helps size and fit kids with brand new tennis shoes — more than 400 shoes for Preble County children.
According to National Trail Success Liaison Heather Ludy, the organization had been coming to Twin Valley South and Preble Shawnee for a couple of years, but when she saw the impact the program was making she knew she had to help bring the organization to all Preble County schools.
At this time, the program has been at Twin Valley South and Preble Shawnee for three years and two years at Tri-County North, Eaton Community Schools, and National Trail.
“All of the Success Liaisons in the schools got in contact with Kris Horlacher who is the executive director of Shoes for the Shoeless and asked her to come out to all of the schools in Preble County. This is our second year partnering with them and we hope that continues for many more years,” Ludy said.
“The goal of the Preble County Success Program is to remove barriers so children can succeed in school. So many students face issues that are out of their control such as lack of food, clothing, supplies or medical care. As liaisons we contact parents and see how we can assist them in removing these barriers. We connect them with local resources, help them with follow through and just provide a support system that they may not have. We really do want the best for the families that we work with and love seeing them knock down their barriers and become more self sufficient!”
“A lot of families in the community are just not aware of what resources are available to them and we have a lot of great resources in our county,” she continued. I think a lot of them just appreciate having someone they can ask questions and talk to about their struggles.”
“Our partnership with Shoes for the Shoeless has been amazing,” Ludy said. “We are so thankful to Kris Horlacher and Shoes for the Shoeless for expanding into Preble County and providing shoes for our kids. Some kids in our schools may only receive one pair of shoes for the whole year. Kids are rough on shoes! And with this program, they are able to get sized, get new socks, try shoes on and make sure the shoe actually fits.”
“There are kids who get hand me downs from an older sibling or have to wear shoes that are too small because that’s all they have and that’s extremely unfortunate,” she added. “We try hard to get shoes in a color that the kid likes and let them run around the gym to make sure they feel good to them. Kids are bouncing down the halls for days extremely proud to show off their new shoes! We have wonderful programs in Preble that provide shoes for those in need, but Shoes for the Shoeless is special in that they come in, set up the gym like a shoe store and spend some one on one time with each kid.”
The program visited National Trail on Tuesday, April 17. On that day alone, over 145 students, of all grades, received shoes. Any student who was absent on the day of the event will still get fitted for shoes. Ludy said, S4TS gave all the liaisons a large stock of shoes to keep at each of their buildings so they can get kids shoes as quick as possible when needed.
There are still two more Shoes for the Shoeless events coming to Preble County — but from the other schools combined, more than 400 kids have received new shoes in the county.
The next Shoes for the Shoeless event will be Thursday, May 3, at Bruce Elementary. The last event for the school year will be May 17 at East Elementary. Anyone who is interested in volunteering can contact Leslie Bassler, Success Liaison for Eaton, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“When I first saw Shoes for the Shoeless at Twin Valley South I was blown away by their efficiency and ability to fit so many kids in such little time. They really are a well oiled machine! But I also knew that this was something that my school could benefit from,” Ludy said.
“I graduated from National Trail so it holds a really special place in my heart. Shoes are a luxury for some families and when you see how a new pair of shoes can change a kid’s attitude about how they feel, it’s really no question as to why it needed to come to National Trail. Who doesn’t feel good in a new pair of shoes?”
“For days after our S4TS event I will have teachers come up to me and tell me stories about students jumping down the halls in their new shoes,” Ludy said. “A lot of kids tell their teachers they can run faster and jump higher. It really is something that brightens not only their day, but weeks later. These kids are coming into their classroom more confident and on the same level as their peers.”
“I would like to say thank you to all of our volunteers because without them it wouldn’t be possible,” Ludy added. “Every person who helped fit kids for shoes at any of the events is taking personal time out of their day to be of service to someone else — and that’s awesome.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH