Seeliger Elementary School students, from left, Rozalee Thompson, Karmah Rampley, Kellen Anderson, Jubilee McBride, Kyle Lott and Logan Lott show off their new shoes provided to them as part of Carson City School District’s Step Into Spring event Tuesday. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)
Walk a mile in someone’s shoes before judging them, but walk so many miles in the shoes of the students in the Children in Transition program, and a pair might get worn down pretty significantly before the school year ends.
It’s why 219 children in this year’s Carson City School District program receiving donated new shoes are grateful for the gifts.
“I like how people have been nice,” Kyle Lott, one of Tuesday’s recipients who tried on a pair at Seeliger Elementary School, said. “We really thank for them for all these shoes. … Thank you for coming.”
The “Step Into Spring” program this year provided 219 pairs of shoes to pre-kindergarteners to 12th grade students in the McKinney-Vento Students in Transition program. McKinney-Vento assists children without a fixed, regular nighttime residence.
Many double up with other family members in temporary living situations, and most of these students walk one or two miles to and from school daily, often in Nevada’s extreme weather conditions, so new, reliable shoes benefit them immensely, according to Peggy Sweetland, McKinney-Vento/Foster Care liaison for the school district.
“It makes the children feel better,” she said Tuesday. “When they’re walking to school, it gives them a little puff in their walk and they feel happy and their feet are comfortable and they can concentrate on fun and education.”
The students, upon receipt, always get very animated when they receive their new shoes, she said.
Children who walk and are zoned for elementary schools in the district walk up to a mile to and from schools, while middle school students walk up to two miles each way. Sweetland said this puts up to 40 miles on a student’s shoes and a pair might last the typical student about six months.
For students in transition who are in need of new shoes currently, the cost adds up as families determine where they might live, especially with COVID-19 changing circumstances for many parents and students this past year.
“Shoes since the pandemic have increased in price considerably, and many times parents call up, we get them shoes whenever they’re in need,” Sweetland said. “We go out and buy them, but they go to secondhand stores and get what they can for their kiddos, especially when they have more than one or two children.”
Donations provided to the school or purchases made are always tennis shoes for this reason. The “Step into Spring” event, with donations from Harley Davidson Financial Services, Carson Elks Lodge and Big 5 Sporting Goods eases the financial load. Big 5’s contribution was given at a discount and also included socks with each pair of shoes.
“It’s great that we can do this, thanks to our generous community partners,” she said.