Founded in 2010, Shoes 4 The Shoeless has delivered more than 50,000 pairs of shoes and socks to children in and around Dayton, OH. An estimated 15,000 local children go to school every day wearing shoes that don’t fit or aren’t fit to wear – shoes 3 sizes too small, boots in the Summer without socks and sandals in the Winter. Through a unique offering, Shoes 4 The Shoeless help eliminate one of poverty’s most visible stigmas. Just think about the feeling of confidence you have when you lace up or slip on a brand-new pair of shoes.
Through the good grace of our management team, ATI and Microtek Venture Club were able to be a part of it all on Friday, March 16th at The Dayton Leadership Academy. With over 30 volunteers in our group, supported by others, we ventured into the community to unpack what seems like thousands of pairs of shoes and waited anxiously for the kids to arrive. With over a hundred kids to fit, we were told to take our time with each child individually. You could tell some children loved the attention and were open to share while others were timid and shy. Each child told a different story about their favorite colors, their favorite activities and interests, some even sharing details about their families. You truly got a sense for their style before “showing” them shoes from the hundreds of tote bags lining the gym floor.
I’ll never forget the smile of the first little girl I successfully fit for socks and shoes. She continuously told me about how soft the socks were and was shocked that she got to take home 3 extra pairs! After 4 pairs of shoes, she landed her favorite – bright blue, hot pink and purple New Balance shoes! They were perfect and so was the smile that came across her face. When she ran around the gym and doing jumping jacks to show me how well they fit, she was beaming from ear to ear.
While standing in line to “check out”, she kept looking down at her shoes telling me, “my Daddy is going to be so happy!”
Who knew such a little thing, that most of us have plenty of, would bring such joy to a child. In that moment, I knew this wouldn’t be my last time volunteering with this wonderful organization.
This month our teams have started a drive for new shoes and socks to continue the efforts we started that day. Shoes 4 The Shoeless is an organization we will continue to support through the years as an organization. Shoes 4 The Shoeless says it best – “Shoes Speak Louder Than Words”.