On behalf of AFL-CIO Community Services, we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved in making our Soles for Christ Shoe Program a huge success again this year. This was the program’s 20th year and we could not be prouder.
Because of the many generous people who contributed in a variety of ways, we had another outstanding year. We were able to give nearly 1,000 pairs of new shoes to children in Buchanan, Andrew, Clinton, Dekalb, and Doniphan counties so they could wear them on their first day of the 2022-23 school year. A free pair of tennis shoes may not seem like much to those who can easily afford them, but these new pair of shoes gives each child a boost of confidence for the upcoming year and provides their parents with much needed financial relief they many need when tackling the expenses associated with a new school year.
Over the years, the event has evolved. This year, it was the addition of Clinton and DeKalb counties. In 2021, the distribution was moved from the agency to the St Joseph Civic Arena as a Covid precaution, but that wonderful addition has carried forward, and added much-needed space and sped the process for families that once stood in line for several hours – some overnight! - in the heat or rain outside our facility. With each addition we have found a way to improve on the program, making the past 20 years possible, and the next 20 years feasible. To an observer, the event may look a little chaotic with children, parents and volunteers everywhere but it works very well. Serving 1,000 children in two days’ time is no small feat, and we thank our volunteers profusely for their help in making it all happen so smoothly.
I wish everyone could witness the transformation in each of these children from the time they get into the fitting lines to the time they walk out with their new shoes. Pride, pleasure and excitement are apparent on each smiling face. In addition, the parents could not be more thankful for the help. (You can see the many photos posted on Facebook through the Soles for Christ page www.facebook.com/solesforchrist)
Thank you to all of you who helped make this year such a positive experience. Much of the success can be credited to the 138 volunteers and the 743 hours that they worked for this program. Whether you donated shoes or money, volunteered to help sort and organize all the shoes, registered, sized or fit children, provided equipment, or whatever way you helped, it was truly appreciated. The success of any of our agency programs depends solely on the assistance of our long-standing supporters and community members who understand the importance of helping others. Regardless of what you gave, it did not go unnoticed. We appreciate your support and are glad to know you want to make a difference in this community as well.
Thank you so much for being there for us so we can be there for those who need us.