One child’s misfortune has impacted hundreds of Yukon kids and will continue to do so this year as Shoes for Kids hosts its 10th Annual Shoe Distribution.
The distribution will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. July 31 at the Yukon Public School administration office. To date, there are 65 families signed up to receive shoes with many more to be served throughout the school year. And it all began in Kansas.
“I started it,” Project Leader Carolyn Terrel said. “I saw a little boy with a pair of duct-taped shoes in Kansas. It broke my heart that there are kids without access to shoes.
“I talked to my church about starting a ministry and they put me in charge.”
Canadian Hills Church of the Nazarene took a lead role with Yukon First Church of the Nazarene coming on board. Shoe distribution began the last weekend of July as hundreds of Yukon kids would be impacted. Terrel said it is set up to help Yukon students and any of their siblings. Help is provided from babies up to seniors in high school as long as the child is a Yukon student.
“We set it up as a shoe store and help the students and their siblings,” she said. “The kids get to pick out the shoes and volunteers help them find a pair they like.”
The vetting process takes part at the school through the counselors. Counselors make recommendations and send paperwork home with the child who could benefit from the program.
Throughout the school year, there are seven schools that have shoe closets. If a student needs shoes, a counselor can take the child to the closet and help them right there and then. If the shoe does not have a closet, Terrel brings four different kinds of shoes to the school.
“If they don’t have them, I can run them up there,” she said. “Last year, we gave out 300 pairs of shoes.”
That included the 100 that showed up for the shoe giveaway. She referred to it as a non-typical year for everybody due to COVID-19.
The shoes that are handed out are brand new and the emphasis is on athletic shoes.
“They need to be able to run and jump and do everything in it,” Terrel said. “We prefer laces or Velcro. We prefer all seasonal shoes.”
In addition to the church donations, the distribution effort has received help from Terry’s Heating and Air which does a collection point around Christmas. It all makes a difference as the community’s need for help has opened Terrel’s eyes.
“I didn’t know how much poverty Yukon really had,” Terrel said.
“We had one girl who was homeless, the parents were jobless, and she was wearing shoes three sizes too small. That is something I think of when thinking of Yukon. One thing I am learning is poverty has no zip code. You can be broke anywhere.”
Terell recalls her military background and points out choices made for kids will impact them later. Even if it is providing new shoes to prevent future foot damage that would limit their options.
The students receiving shoes on the 31st were pre-selected. Any student in need of shoes and not on a list should contact their school counselor.
For those interesting in making a donation to the project, email Terrel at firstname.lastname@example.org.