It's not necessarily the toes sticking out of the top of a child's outgrown pair of shoes that spurs Kim Riggs into action this time every year, instead it's the belief that every child should have the basics for school.
"My dad was a designer for Puma shoe company," said Riggs, director of the district's Children-In-Transition program. "His biggest issue was kids can't be in school without everything - a warm jacket, a comfortable pair of shoes, dental care ...."
And the list goes on.
For the eighth year in a row, Riggs, in conjunction with Payless Shoe Source on Topsy Lane, is running a drive to benefit more than 400 children in the Carson City School District at elementary, middle and high school levels.
Some of the children live in motels and hotels, others are foster children or come from families where parents work two jobs. Still others are in shelters or do what is known as "couch surfing," moving from friend's house to friend's house in a transient lifestyle.
"For some of these kids, this is the only time they get shoes for the entire year," she said. "Some of them, when I measure them next year, will have on the shoes we gave them."
Payless Shoe Source General Manager Autumn Smith has teamed with Riggs over the past eight years. Last year, people taking advantage of the buy-one-get-one half-off deal or the 10 percent off a total purchase when a pair is purchased for the shoe drive, donated more than 800 pairs. This year, she hopes customers will help her reach a goal of 1,000 shoes.
"I'm greedy for the kids," she said. "I want to get as many shoes as I can for them."
Customers who plan to buy a pair of shoes for the drive will be helped by store clerks. Tennis shoes are the best choice because they can be worn year-round.
"Kids can be really cruel to one another, so we want to get them something hip," Smith said.
One thing many parents don't know is they should check their children's shoes every two to three months to see if they still fit. Smith has had parents come into the store completely unaware that their child's feet had grown two sizes.
"You never know when they're going to go through a growth spurt," she said.
The number of donated shoes increases every year. Any shoes not distributed by Riggs in the spring are given to those in need throughout the year. Riggs is down to about 15 pairs from last year's drive.
"It makes a difference to kids to know that the community cares about them," Riggs said. "I don't know any other community that does this, really."
The shoe drive continues until April 9. The buy-one-get-one half-off sale runs through Monday.
-- Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.
You can help
WHAT: Shoe drive to benefit children in the Carson City area
WHEN: Now through April 9
WHERE: Payless Shoe Source, 911 Topsy Lane
GOAL: 1,000 shoes
PAYLESS SPECIALS: Buy a pair and get a pair half off through Monday; after that, 10 percent off total for any purchase that includes a pair of shoes donated for the drive.
CALL: Kim Riggs at 690-1303 for information or to add names for her list, or Payless at 267-1389.