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Linda Mah
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Starting Off on the Right Foot

First Day Shoe Fund Gives Students New Shoes

There’s something special about a brand new pair of shoes for the start of the school year, and thousands of children had the chance to experience that thrill thanks to the First Day Shoe Fund.

The organization distributed new pairs of socks and athletic shoes to elementary school children during the summer. The shoes were given away for free during summer school programs and a community shoe distribution night held in August at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts. The community night also included a community resource fair.

“We receive feedback from families and school personnel every year that a new pair of shoes is a self-esteem boost to the kids who receive them,” said John Curran, executive director of the First Day Shoe Fund. “Having a brand new pair of shoes that fits properly and is all yours is a big deal to a kid, especially if you haven’t had that chance very often.

“There are so many great organizations in Kalamazoo working to do their part for the kids in the community. We are thrilled to do our part to help every child start school on equal footing.”

About 4,500 pairs of shoes were distributed to children in preschool through fifth grade. The shoes and socks are free to children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Roughly 70 percent of Kalamazoo Public Schools’ students qualify for free or reduced lunch. The fund also provides shoes for students from three other school districts.

Shoes are collected from community donations and purchased through donated funds.

At the shoe giveaway events, volunteers measure students’ feet and try to provide them with several options, from which the children can choose their favorite pair.

“I love getting new shoes. I just like finding shoes that are a good size and I can grow into them,” said Trinity Nabors.

Those interested in volunteering, hosting a new shoe drive, or supporting the program with a donation can find more information at

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