Volunteers ‘spread the love with a pair of shoes’

Dayton-based program expands into Miami County.

More local children had new shoes for the start of the school year — thanks to the efforts of a group of local women who fell in love with the Shoes for the Shoeless project and brought it to Miami County.

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“What struck home with me was the simple need of socks and shoes,” said Liz Sonnanstine, a Bethel Twp. resident who heard about the project from friend Rebecca Schinaman of Tipp City.

“It is not complicated, not hard, and yet it provides so much reward, return,” Sonnanstine said. “We are very excited to get new, properly fitting shoes on these children.”

Shoes for the Shoeless Inc. is a nonprofit providing new gym shoes and socks to children in need. Thanks to a donation earlier this year from the Give Where You Live giving circle in Miami County, local volunteers were able to expand the Dayton-based program into the county.

The shoes are either bought by the organization from participating shoe sellers at a discount or are donated by individuals.

In Tipp City, local business That Place on Main downtown is a donation site. Owner Jennifer White, a program volunteer, provides space for storing program materials.

Schinaman learned of Shoes for the Shoeless from her late father. He was on the Dayton Salvation Army board and believed in the program.

“It was something I could do in his honor,” she said.

“It was an easy organization to fall in love with,” Schinaman said. “It is a great feeling to be able to spread the love with a pair of shoes.”

Many of the shoes donated to the program go to schools. Distribution sessions also are held as a way to introduce the program, such as this summer when the local group helped children get ready for school with distribution days at locations in Troy, Tipp City and Bethel Twp. Another shoe delivery is planned in October at a Piqua school.

Volunteers ensure the child receives a pair of shoes that fit properly along with a new pair of socks. More volunteers are needed, Schinaman said.

The program information sheet tells those interested in helping children possibly in need of shoes to look for indicators such as children living in poverty; those who don’t want to run or are limping when they walk; and those with tattered or dirty shoes, shoes with holes or shoes that flop when children walk.

For more information, go online to www.shoes4theshoeless.org and see the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/shoes4theshoeless.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com.

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