‘Shoes 4 the Shoeless’ provides hundreds of free pairs to Butler County school district

More than half the students at Rosa Parks Elementary School receive footwear.

For the fourth year, students in a Middletown elementary school received free shoes and socks thanks to a Dayton-area non-profit organization and a $5,000 donation from Suburban Propane.

About 350 of the 589 students enrolled at Rosa Parks Elementary School were given socks and shoes from Shoes 4 the Shoeless, said Myla Perry, who works for the Butler County Educational Services Center and serves as success liaison at the school.

She said all the students took home permission slips to their parents, and those who forgot their slips, were allowed to pick out shoes from a shoe closet at the school. Some of the teachers pinpointed certain students who needed shoes and all students were eligible, she said.

Perry said about 40 community volunteers measured the students’ feet and helped at the distribution center on the playground. Perry said some of the volunteers commented that certain students were wearing new shoes, but they were the wrong size. That’s because some students borrow shoes from a sibling, a parent or a cousin, she told the volunteers.

She said the program “fills a need” at Rosa Parks, where every student receives free breakfast and lunch.

“When they got those shoes they were all jumping around, hopping higher,” she said. “It gives them confidence.”

Jonathan Hauge, director of engagement and fundraising for Shoes 4 the Shoeless, said proper fitting shoes and socks can make “a world of difference to a child living in a difficult situation.”

He said the shoes help boos kids’ confidence so they can “put their best foot forward” throughout the school year.

And the program allows parents to reallocate money they may spend on shoes to another “basic need,” Perry said.

“It was just a beautiful day,” she said.

The students also received grade-appropriate books from MidPointe Library System, she said.

Shoes 4 the Shoeless will distribute shoes throughout the district early in 2022, Perry added.

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