By MATT PIKE
St. Joseph Post
A program that distributes shoes to area school children in need will be giving out shoes for its 20th year.
Soles for Christ began small in 2003, giving away 200 pairs of shoes to St. Joseph children. Since then, more than 15,000 pairs of shoes have been given away.
ALF-CIO Community Services Executive Director Nichi Yeager says the success of the program comes from the volunteers seeing how grateful kids are for the shoes.
"When the folks see this, especially if it's a representative from the church or a representative from an organization, they take it back to their group and tell them these stories and people quickly understand just how valuable this is to our community and to the folks living in St. Joe that need this type of assistance," Yeager tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post.
Yeager says Soles for Christ keeps growing in popularity through the years.
Yeager says Community Services distributes shoes to over 1,200 kids over a two-day period during the event. She says the speed at which the event moves do bring a little more attention to it.
"It is one of our more popular programs for sure," Yeager proudly says. "And it definitely does have a lot of community and public support."
Community Services' other big one-time event is Adopt-A-Family. It also has its Thrift Store open year-round.
Soles for Christ shoes were distributed out of the AFL-CIO Communality Services headquarters in the beginning. Now, it's outgrown that and shoes are being distributed out of the Civic Arena.
Yeager says last year, the program even expanded beyond just giving shoes, and those organizations will be at this year’s event as well.
"Including an organization that does free eye checks for kids and we have a couple of other agencies and utility companies that are going to be there to also provide any kind of assistance or communication with parents while they're there," Yeager explains. "So, it's kind of going to be a one stop shop and we're hoping to kind of keep building on that."
This year’s shoe distribution event will be held on August 2nd and 3rd at the Civic Arena. Students from Andrew, Dekalb, Buchanan, and Clinton counties in Missouri and Doniphan County in Kansas are eligible to attend.
Community Services will take new shoe donations until July 28th.