800 area school children receive new shoes to start school year off on right foot

800 area school children receive new shoes to start school year off on right foot
Photo from a past event provided by Catholic Charities of Baton Rouge.
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POSTED: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 5:00am

UPDATED: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 5:04am

On Saturday, July 20, some Baton Rouge kids in need will gain some new “kicks” for the upcoming school year.

For the sixth straight year, Catholic Charities Kicks for Kids paired up with Payless Shoe Source to help 800 children start school off on the right foot.

Since Kicks for Kids began in 2008, about 6,000 children have stepped into a new school year with new shoes thanks to the generosity of parishioners at area churches, Payless Shoe Source and the Greater Baton Rouge State Fair Foundation. Most of the families receiving shoe vouchers are current or former clients of Catholic Charities. The churches also reserved some of the vouchers to distribute to families in need. Most live at or below the poverty level.

“Other great organizations collect school supplies and uniforms,” said Deacon Richard Grant of Our Lady of Mercy, who helped organize the program, “but none were providing new shoes. That’s when our church approached Catholic Charities, and we’ve never looked back.”

Added David Aguillard, CCDBR Executive Director, “by the time school rolls around, there's not a lot left over in the budget for school supplies, uniforms and classroom fees which can add up to well over $400. When Deacon Grant and Our Lady of Mercy came to us with this idea, we knew it was something struggling families needed,” said Aguillard.

Contributions from the Greater Baton Rouge State Fair, Our Lady of Mercy, Catholic Churches in Tangipahoa and Pointe Coupee Parishes totaled $22,000. Most are clients of Catholic Charities or have been identified by the parishes were the funds were collected.

“This programs is fits the mission of the Greater Baton Rouge State Fair Foundation,” said JH Martin, President of the foundation. “Our primary focus is the wellbeing of children and their education. You can’t get any more basic than outfitting a student with new shoes to start school.”

Also, about 50 volunteers including members of the Capital Area United Way Youth Volunteer Corp are lending a hand, helping children make their shoe selections.

“Our Kicks for Kids program is a great example of neighbor helping neighbor,” said Aguillard. “I just wish the donors could see the kids’ faces as they pick out their new shoes.”

Each year, Payless Shoe Source gives a discount on the shoes, opens early with extra staff at 5 designated locations, and stocks up on popular styles for the “Kicks for Kids” program.

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