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Program seeks to provide new shoes for children in need

Community helps program get up and going

As the Shoes For Kids program has been in the planning stages and now officially under way, organizers Martin Little and Melody Rector said they have had a great deal of help and support for the program.

“Martin and I were amazed at the outpouring of support from businesses and individuals,” Rector said. “We knew folks in Ashe County were wonderful, but we have just been amazed.”

Local artist Stephen Shoemaker has agreed to create and design the logo for SFK. Rector said that Shoemaker had been wonderful to the group and they were excited to see his design.

SFK board members include Little, Rector, Dr. Theresa Curd, Jenny Summey and Certified Public Accountant, Melissa Goodman.

Goodman has been working on the nonprofit process and paperwork for the group, and they expect to be set up with the status within the next two months.

Attorney John Kilby drew up the legal documents to incorporate SFK.

In addition, Cheryl Gamble is helping the group write grants to apply for funds.

As they continue to grow, they have talked about having some fundraisers, including a 5K run in connection with Little’s gym and a photography fundraiser with BC Photography.

“As the program grows, we hope to be able to expand to include daycares,” Rector added.

Originally published: Feb. 21, 2013
Last modified: Feb. 21, 2013

Heather Samudio

When families are forced to choose between paying for electricity, buying groceries or their medication, buying new clothes or shoes probably won’t rank near the top of their priorities.

A new program in Ashe County, Shoes For Kids, is looking to remedy at least one of those problems as they work to provide new shoes for area children.

The idea for the program came about at Little’s Health and Fitness gym as Owner Martin Little assisted Melody Rector with her workout.

“Martin asked me if I ever felt guilty because my life is so good,” Rector said. “I told him I did. It is just by the grace of God that we were born to wonderful parents and made the right decisions for our lives.”

Little and Rector decided they wanted to do something to help those who are in need in the area. That’s when they decided to formulate a plan for the program.

The program spent more than eight months in the planning stages because Rector said they wanted to think through everything and all the possibilities so they could make the program run as smoothly as possible.

Rector said she had no idea what some children in the county were dealing with until she began volunteering at a local elementary school.

“One boy was wearing his mom’s shoes to school and his brother was wearing his dad’s shoes,” she said. “The family just didn’t have a way to do any better.”

There were other examples Rector gave of children who were wearing shoes two sizes too small or even three or four inches too large.

“Clothes can be hand-me-downs, but shoes can’t be hand-me-downs,” she said. “By the time you can hand shoes down, they are already worn out.

“I did not realize that when families get assistance, that only includes food,” she continued. “It doesn’t include clothes or shoes.”

The Shoes For Kids idea was born.

The first official start for the program came on Jan. 29, when the group gave away five new pairs of shoes. During one week of the program, 18 children received new shoes, spotlighting the program’s importance.

Organizers have provided a “shoe-sizer” to Ashe County school counselors. When a teacher identifies a need, she can send the student to the guidance counselor who will then check the student’s shoe size.

The guidance counselor contacts Rector, Little or another board member with the size.

The group has already seen what kind of impact the program can have on the children. One pair of shoes Rector delivered to a boy was too small. He was so excited, he wanted to keep them anyway, but the group replaced them with a bigger size.

“This is one program that totally benefits the child,” Rector said.

All of the money collected for the program remains in Ashe County and goes to buy the shoes for the children. There are no rent or administrative costs.

To ensure that the children keep the shoes, the group writes SFK on the inside of the shoes and the guidance counselor keeps the shoebox.

The group’s mission is to provide at no cost, season-appropriate footwear for those in need and is completely dependent on donations.

Donations of new shoes can be dropped off at Dr. Timothy Rector and Dr. Brett Summey’s office in West Jefferson, across from Parker Tie or at Little’s Health and Fitness.

Financial donations are also accepted and can be made out to Shoes For Kids and mailed to 347 Paddy Avenue, West Jefferson, NC 28694.

For more information about the program, contact Rector at (TimandMelody@skybest.com) or (704) 906-8850 or Little at (MDLittles@skybest.com) or (336) 877-6688.

SFK is incorporated and has submitted the paperwork to become a nonprofit. They expect to receive the nonprofit status within the next two months.

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.