Growing up during the Great Depression, Vivian Molnar empathizes with youth who struggle financially. “I remember what it was like to not be able to get shoes,” she said. “It was a big item.”She and other residents of The Lodge, an assisted-living center in Carson City, meet weekly with teens from the Boys & Girls Club as part of a group know as the Wisdom Circle.“They learn from us older folks,” Gail Jenkins said. “And we learn the situations they’re faced with, what they have to deal with in their young lives. Most of us have been through similar situations.”When the seniors noticed kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada wearing badly tattered shoes, some held together with tape or safety pins, they came up with a plan to help.“We talked a lot among us,” Jenkins said. “We decided a shoe is a universal thing that they could all use.”Bridget Gordon, teen director at the club, said the seniors’ generosity will benefit the youth involved. “A lot of our kids are low-income, and if you don’t have the good shoes, your status lowers,” she said. “Their shoes are falling apart, and they don’t fit in.”Gordon said poor footwear also prevents students from participating in certain activities such as sports. She said the club welcomed the offer from The Lodge residents. “It seemed like a really natural fit,” she said. “It was a tangible way they could support the teens.”Karen Perry, Lodge director, said it gave residents there a way to give back. “It’s really hard for seniors to be accepting care all the time,” she said. “They want to take care of somebody.”Seniors in the program each bought a young person a pair of shoes. However, they are hoping the community will donate enough to put shoes on the feet of 300 teens through the effort they call SOLEmates. Noma G. Perkins was happy to help. “I have six kids,” she said. “I know what it is.”Molnar said she expected the teens would be “delighted” to receive their new shoes. “I know what it feels like to do without,” she said. “I wish I could buy a whole bunch of them.”
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