100,000th pair of Shoes 4 the Shoeless shoes goes to Springfield girl

Nothing could hide the joy on Lincoln Elementary kindergartner Arieanna Peterson’s face when she received a drum roll and a new pair of sparkly blue shoes in honor of Shoes 4 the Shoeless’ latest milestone — 100,000 pairs of shoes donated to local kids.

The nonprofit was started in 2010 and gives out properly fitting gym shoes and socks to children in need in the Dayton area.

Arieanna’s teachers at Lincoln said she is normally very reluctant to come to school but when asked what she’d do in her new kicks, Arieanna proudly said she’d “run and play basketball in them!” with hopes of reaching her dream of becoming a basketball player.

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City of Springfield City Commissioner Joyce Chilton also attended the event and presented a proclamation declaring Sept. 27 as “New Shoes Day” in the city.

In addition to the 100,000 pair of shoes milestone, more than 300 kids at Lincoln Elementary received new footwear — but their faces looked more like they had won the lottery.

Shoes 4 the Shoeless organizers say that when kids wear ill-fitting and worn-down shoes, it often puts them in a position to have physical, social and emotional problems that can last a lifetime.

Springfield City School District Lead Nurse Ashley Wilson has seen the worst of the worst — the shoes so flimsy they can be peeled apart and the socks that are dirty and wet.

“You figure anything under two miles, (the kids) walk so it could be the soles of the cold feet on the ground or walking over rocks,” she said. “So to make their day happy with a pair of shoes and socks is amazing. It’s Springfield helping Springfield.”

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Plenty of volunteers were on hand to fit the kids for shoes, including members of the Springfield High School Wildcat football team.

Wilson said it’s encouraging to see the school community step up to help. She said the football players actually approach her at the beginning of the school year to ask when the next Shoes 4 the Shoeless event will be happening.

Friday was not the first time senior standout wide receiver Larry Stephens has volunteered, but he said it’s seeing the genuine smiles on the kids’ faces that keeps him coming back to help.

“It just gives me a lot of love and blesses my heart,” Stephens said. “To watch these little kids look up to me, it means a lot. I’m more than just being a football player to them, I’m a role model to them.”

Shoes 4 the Shoeless is scheduled to visit the school district 10 more times before Christmas, so that no child will have to walk in the wet and cold weather without the proper footwear.

100,000 — pairs of shoes donated by Shoes 4 the Shoeless in Dayton area

300 — students at Lincoln Elementary who received new shoes and socks

10 — more Shoes 4 the Shoeless visits to Springfield City Schools before Christmas

Shoes 4 the Shoeless is a local nonprofit that provides free gym shoes and socks to children in the Dayton area.

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