LEWISBURG — Shoes 4 the Shoeless visited Tri-County North Schools on Tuesday, April 30, to provide 125 students with new shoes and socks.
According to its website, since its founding in 2010, Shoes 4 the Shoeless has delivered over 85,000 pairs of shoes and socks to disadvantaged children within the Dayton, Ohio region. Executive Director Kris Horlacher added, that number recently increased to 90,000 while in Darke County.
Horlacher started this organization after seeing the need of kids in poverty for one pair of shoes and socks.
“I did some research around the community and country and found out it was a tremendously large unmet need. Nobody was working to help, so I started this organization. I had no idea how big it was going to get – I didn’t even know how to do it when I started. We learned as we went,” she said.
“We work in 12 counties now and help roughly 2,000 children a month. We have 500 community volunteers a month. We provide brand new gym shoes and socks. We measure their feet, try them on the kids, and we function as a mobile shoe store. This is the biggest unmet need for a child in poverty.”
The difference in this kids after they get a new pair of shoes is astronomical. Horlacher explained, it is a physical need. Shoes that don’t fit hurt these kids feet and they can’t function properly.
“Especially if the shoe is too small — they don’t run or walk normally. They’re damaging the bones in their feet. We literally see curled under toes or toes that have grown on top of each other. Or kids who’s feet are just full of blisters. If the kid is wearing shoes too big, they just don’t pick their feet up, so they can develop a really unusual gait,” she said.
“That is the physical part. The mental part is, it hurts and they’re not comfortable and they’re embarrassed. When you have shoes full of holes or socks that are filthy, it hurts your mind and it hurts your heart. They don’t have a lot of confidence, but when they put on a brand new pair everything changes. How you feel about yourself changes, how other people view you changes — it changes everything.”
Shoes 4 the Shoeless buys most of the shoes, while a small percentage are donated. Preble County and Darke County are famous for hosting sock drives for the organization. There is a way to donate on both the organization’s Facebook page (Shoes 4 the Shoeless) and on its website at shoes4theshoeless.org. The organization needs 400 people to donate $30 each month.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH