Shoe program fills a need

Shoe program fills a need

Aug. 12–Some women say they know the importance behind a good pair of shoes, and 8-year-old Jillian Wise found her perfect pair Monday afternoon.

“I want pink, sparkly, maybe with rainbow shoe laces,” Jillian said as she sat with her mother, Gevan Jefferies, and two cousins at the AFL-CIO Community Services Soles for Christ shoe distribution. “New shoes are really important, because I just like looking pretty.”

Jillian and her family joined hundreds of upcoming students for the 11th-annual Soles for Christ distribution day. A total of 734 children in Andrew and Buchanan counties received a new pair of shoes before the start of school.

“This is really awesome because we’ve had a really hard summer and to be able to get (my daughter) and my nieces new shoes, is really helpful,” Ms. Jefferies said. “Jillian has been reminding me for a week, three days ago, yesterday and this morning that we needed to come down to get new shoes.”

Last year, 1,103 children received a new pair of shoes, including Jillian, her mother added. With a line that extended up the block this year, AFL-CIO Executive Director Penny Adams said the need for the program was evident.

“When we got here this morning, it was raining, but there were still people all around the building, some with umbrellas, some with blankets over their heads, some with nothing, but they didn’t seem the least bit concerned it was raining,” she said. “The rain came and went, but the crowd stayed steady, so apparently there is a true need to stand in line and even get wet.”

Volunteers said some parents stood in line beginning at 4:30 a.m. and came with a change of clothes because of the rainy morning. By the afternoon, Carla Auxier was relieved to receive two new pairs of shoes for her 17-year-old daughter, Lessa Auxier, and her 13-year-old son Alyas Auxier.

“This is really great this year, because we are broke. I mean, I have $5 in my pocket and we don’t have anything left in the bank,” Ms. Auxier said as her children looked over their new shoes.

“I got these from a janitor at summer school this year,” Alyas said, pointing down at his worn gray tennis shoes. “I like the neon insides of my new shoes better.”

Soles for Christ distribution will continue Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at AFL-CIO Community Services, located at 1203 N. Sixth St. Parents or guardians are asked to bring their children and provide the one form of proof of residency ( a utility bill or rent/mortgage receipt) and a pair of clean socks so their children can try on shoes.

For more information, contact the AFL-CIO at 364-1131.

Kristin Hoppa can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPHoppa.