Who we are and what we do…
Shoes for Kids, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation chartered in New York State. It was started by a small group of friends who volunteered to go Guatemala and help with a construction project. We were asked to bring with us some shoes for the children in the communities we would be working in. The shoes didn’t need to be new or fancy, just sturdy and clean. So we stopped at the thrift store and asked our friends and family if they had any used shoes in their closets that they no longer needed. We brought about one hundred and fifty pairs with us and quickly discovered there is a need for many many more.
So we started Shoes for Kids, Inc. We reached out to the schools in our surrounding communities and asked them to hold Shoe Drives. The response has been fantastic! Currently there are seven schools in the rural Catskill Mountains of New York that are organizing shoe drives. They include Roxbury Central School, Worcester Central School. Schenevus Central School, Laurens Central School, Cherry Valley Central School and the Northern Catskill Occupational Center in Grand Gorge.
The Margaretville Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store is a regular contributor to Shoes for Kids, Inc. We get lots and lots of shoes from them and the kids in Guatemala and around the world need lots and lots more**
**Do you know somebody who needs a pair of good, safe, clean shoes? Just send us an email and an address to send the shoes and we’ll make sure they get them fast!
Why do we do it?
Why do we do it? You see the pride on the kids’ faces – smiles as big as the world as they leave with a new pair of shoes, and the relief and pride of the parents as they thank us so graciously.
The first year we distributed shoes at a free health clinic. Families had come from miles around to see the doctor. After which, they went to the pharmacy table to get their medications, and then stopped at the small room where we had set up the shoes. After lots of little kids had come through, a teenage girl showed up who tried on a couple of pairs of sneakers, but they were too small. She saw a pair of very pretty shoes with rhinestones, tried them on, but they didn’t fit. She stayed for nearly an hour, looking with longing art those shoes. Every once in awhile she would try them on, willing them to fit, but of course, they didn’t. We tried to convince her to take a pair of larger, women’s shoes that she would grow into, but she left, dejected. Then we decided we needed to make sure we included more shoes for the teens, too. By the way, a little boy came to us, spied a pair of yellow rain boots across the room. His eyes lit the room up, and he made a beeline for them. We were all just praying that he wouldn’t be disappointed, and voila! They fit!! He was just beaming as he left. We theorized that it was quite possible he had never owned anything so new.
To see such a basic necessity of life that we take for granted be so hard to come by, and so very appreciated when received, is surprising and satisfying. It is so easy to change a small circumstance of someone’s being. A “new” pair of shoes is very important to a child. What a blessing to be able to immediately and visibly raise their self-esteem and level of pride.
Muchas gracias mi amigo,
Peg DiBenedeto – A founding board member