Success in school comes from success in shoes, according to one woman who knows that happy feet make happy children.
"Imagine sitting there in class and your shoes don't fit right," said Kim Riggs, homeless advocate for the Carson City School District. "How could you pay attention if your shoes are bothering you? It can be really hard to get a great education if you're not happy."
For the eighth year in a row, the school district is joining with Payless Shoe Source off Topsy Lane to collect shoes for students in need.
Each year, Riggs receives a list of needy students from administrators at each school site. Her list of names also includes children from Advocates to End Domestic Violence and foster care children from Volunteers of America.
"These kids are so excited when they get the shoes," she said.
An Easter basket at the cashier's desk at Payless contains pastel cut-outs with the names of students, their school, their shoe size and suggestions for shoes. Diana, a student at Empire Elementary School, needs size 13 tennis shoes and would like them in pink. Austin, from Empire, needs size 5 1/2 shoes and would like Vans, if possible.
"I always try to get the parents to purchase two pairs of shoes for each kid," said Payless Manager Autumn Smith. "This is often the only time some of these kids get a new pair of shoes each year."
In addition to footwear, some people purchase socks, toys and sunglasses for the students as accessories.
"Just come up right to my girls for help," said Smith. "All of them are fashion authorities and will help find shoes the kids will like and what will last. Payless carries the Smart Fit insole with an arch support, a heel cradle that helps align the kids feet and heel-to-toe cushioning. They are more durable than most kids shoes."
People who purchase shoes for students now through the first week of April will receive 10 percent off the total purchase price. The store is having a mix-and-match sale that drops the purchase price on a pair of shoes when more than one is purchased. Beginning April 1, Champion shoes will be on sale.
"A lot of people don't realize how good shoes are for kids feet," Smith said.
Nearly 400 students are fitted for tennis shoes every year. After Easter, Riggs will dress as the Easter Bunny and head to the schools.
"We're going to deliver them the week after Easter," Riggs said. "We size every child and do not give them shoes until they put them on, stand up and walk in them to make sure they fit."
People purchasing shoes for students should leave them at the front desk at Payless. Riggs said children are always in need of shoes, not just in the spring.
"My dad worked for Puma," she said. "He was a firm believer that shoes make a huge difference."
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.
Where: Payless Shoe Source, 911 Topsy Lane, Suite 118
When: Now through first week of April. Purchasers will receive 10 percent discount when shoes are bought for needy children.
Call: Kim Riggs at 283-2020 or Payless at 267-1389.