Shoes for Kids event serves more than 1,200 local children

Shoes for Kids event serves more than 1,200 local children

Aug. 10–ROCKWALL — A little girl looked up at the newspaper reporter and softly asked, “Would you take my picture, too?”

She apparently had seen the reporter take a picture of another little girl earlier Saturday at the 12th annual Shoes for Kids program at First United Methodist Church, Rockwall.

She was happy with the reporter’s positive response. She got a shoe from the box to hold for her picture. She was excited about getting her picture taken, but she was more excited with her selection at the Shoes for Kids event.

Jaquelin Saucedo, 6, of Rockwall, even printed her first name on the reporter’s note pad, then she was off with her family.

Jaquelin was among 1,247 kids who left the church that day with happy smiles and happy feet.

Seeing the smiles and hearing the kids’ excitement over a new pair of shoes is what keeps volunteers coming back for the event held annually the first Saturday of August.

Alma Castillo began volunteering while she was a Payless Shoe Source employee. She’s now employed by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall and has continued to be a Shoes for Kids volunteer.

“It is very important to me,” Castillo said of her service as a Shoes for Kids volunteer, Castillo said she gets to see children excited about some “basic things of life,” like new shoes and other items they received at the event — socks, backpacks and even tubes of toothpaste.

“I believe this program is motivation for a lot of the children,” she said. “They’re excited about getting to start the new school year with nice new clothes and new shoes.”

Shoes for Kids is a community-based program that provides children in need with new school shoes and socks. The program has grown from 170 children to 1,473 served in 2012. Event officials reported that 1,247 children were served Saturday.

Children who participate in the program are identified by area schools and agencies.

First United Methodist Church is turned into a giant store for the event, and children choose their own shoes. Amy Conner, director of Shoes for Kids for four years, wanted to stress that kids walk out with brand new shoes — no gently-worn or used shoes are distributed.

The program is sponsored by First United Methodist Church and involves other churches, social and service clubs and organizations, businesses and individuals.

“This is a time when our community comes together for a common cause,” Conner said.

Volunteers don’t select the shoes for the children.

“We want the children to have the experience of going to the store and choosing their own shoes,” she said.

Conner said Payless Shoe Source is one of the community partners. Shoes for Kids buys shoes from Payless at a discounted price, then volunteers are involved in fitting, sizing, setting up and checking out.

Some of the groups become known for the items they provide. For example, Conner said, the Royse City Rotary Club is known as the “toothpaste club” and Eastridge Church of Christ is recognized as the “sock church.” The church provides five pairs of socks for each child.

Rockwall Friendship Baptist Church members handed out backpacks and members of Lakeshore Church offered a prayer of blessing for each family as they left the “store.”

Families huddled together as a Lakeshore member prayed a short prayer, asking God to bless the students, and their moms and dads during the upcoming school year.