A local nonprofit is marking 25 years of operating its S.H.O.E.S. program by giving away free back-to-school shoes for elementary students.
Grand Rapids-based In The Image said Wednesday, July 28, it is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a shoe giveaway Aug. 9.
In The Image’s Shoes Help Our Elementary Students (S.H.O.E.S.) program has been serving the community since 1996 and has provided new athletic shoes for over 65,000 students. Providing a new pair of shoes for elementary students ensures children can walk to and from school and participate in recess, gym class, sports and after-school programs. When a child no longer must worry about whether or not they have a new pair of shoes, they are given more of an opportunity to attend, focus on and enjoy school, In The Image said.
“Our S.H.O.E.S. program gives students the confidence to start the school year off on the right foot, with the right shoes,” said Bethann Egan, executive director of In The Image. “After the last year-and-a-half of struggling with COVID, we’re happy to provide families in our community with some financial relief by providing their children with brand new and free shoes.”
In The Image will host this program at its new location at 4255 Kalamazoo Ave. SE. The program partners with 38 elementary schools in five Kent County school districts to provide a free pair of athletic shoes to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. This year, the program will be by appointment to limit the number of individuals in the facility at a time. Masks will be required, and other safety measures will be implemented.
Registration for the program is now open. Parents unsure if their child is eligible should contact their school administrator or visit intheimage.org/shoes for a full list of partnering schools. Volunteers are still needed throughout this two-week program. People can sign up to volunteer at the above link.
Those interested in supporting the S.H.O.E.S. program can donate online, by mail or by calling (616) 456-6150.