For Lilly Egan, there was excitement in her step as she pulled the pair of shoes from the shelf.
They had beads, and were just her size.
“Without this, we would have to use our outside of school shoes,” the 10-year-old said as she tried on her new athletic shoes.
Lilly was among 150 or so children from Yukon who had an opportunity to participate Saturday in Canadian Hills Church of the Nazarene’s Shoes for Kids program.
Each child was invited to participate after being nominated by a school counselor in either Yukon, Mustang or the Council Grove districts.
The program invites not only the student, but that child’s siblings to participate as well.
In Lilly’s case, that meant a pair of shoes and six pair of socks for not only her, but also her 12-year-old sister.
Their parents said the program is a blessing.
“We struggle a lot, and this helps us get them new shoes. It is a head-start on school. Without this program, they wouldn’t have new shoes,” said mom, Susan Egan.
“This is a great blessing,” she said.
That is what Shoes for Kids is about, said Carolyn Terrel, who coordinates the annual program.
The event is held at the Yukon Public Schools Administration Building on the last Saturday in July.
“We have the children come in and they get to choose their shoes,” Terrel said.
This year, that also included at least one package of socks.
“Those are first-come, first-served,” she said.
With a little more than an hour to go, the crowd had thinned, though officials were expecting another large rush before the end of the event.
The shoes are purchased or donated throughout the year. They are all new, and most have been purchased on sale through the church, which sponsors the event. In addition, there is a donation box at Ultimate Computers.
The Yukon Rotary Club also is instrumental in making sure the program runs smoothly with volunteers who can assist the families.
In addition, there were volunteers available who were fluent in Spanish.
Besides the annual shoe event, children who are in need can visit a shoe closet at one of four schools in Yukon, including Shedeck Elementary, Lakeview Elementary, Independence and Myers Elementary, to receive another pair of shoes during the school year.
Terrel said the number of children who were provided with shoes this year was up significantly from last year.
They range in age from babies to 18.
Any size shoe is appreciated and welcome, she said.
However, they do ask that the shoes be an athletic shoe with either Velcro or laces to meet the needs of physical education programs.
“If a child is going to have just one pair of shoes, we want them to be able to run and jump and play at recess with it,” she said.
Terrel initiated the program seven years ago after going to a school play in another district and seeing a child with a pair of shoes that were duct-taped together, she said.
Terrel said she knew she couldn’t grab that child and take him to a shoe store, but she could bring the idea back to Yukon to help local children.
She presented the idea to her church who welcomed the suggestion.
Response to the program has been strong.
“It’s been amazing,” Terrel said.