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Squeezing. Rubbing. Endless blisters. Poorly fitting footwear can create misery with every step. But when hand-me-downs are the only option, the kids will tell you that the pain can be endured – it’s the teasing that is unbearable.
Growing up is tough, especially when your family struggles financially. For low-income children, often there is no time of the year more dreaded than “Back to School.”
When the hallways are flooded with new clothes, new backpacks, and new shoes, students without feel like they stand out.
In response, the Salvation Army Washington Corps is helping local kids in need put their best foot forward at the start of the new school year by providing them with a new pair of shoes.
Research indicates that if kids aren’t wearing proper footwear, they cannot focus in the classroom. Plus, thoughtless comments from their classmates can create an additional distraction.
Each year, a group of volunteers, typically from a sponsoring business, accompany qualifying kids and Salvation Army representatives on a shopping trip to the Famous Footwear at Trinity Point.
“Some of these kids never have selected their own shoes before . . . they just have to take whatever is on clearance. So, being able to spend a little bit more to get the sparkly shoes that fit make this trip extra-special,” remarked Captain Amber Imhoff. “In about an hour, we can have 40 kids in and out of the store. It’s an amazing sight to see.”
In addition to providing comfort, the new shoes also boost the children’s self-esteem.
In fact, it is not unusual for the Salvation Army Washington Corps to receive touching thank you notes from the children who have been helped. Some even write about how they are no longer made fun of by their peers for wearing shoes that are far too big or in disrepair. With enough support, the Salvation Army Washington Corps hopes to take 100 children shoe shopping this summer and help 200 happy feet step confidently into the new school year.