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Students step out with new confidence

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer
Kim Riggs, right, director of the Carson City School District's Children-in-Transition program, helps students at Fritsch Elementary school try on new tennis shoes Monday. Fifty students received a new pair of shoes through the district's Easter shoe drive, which still needs donations. Chad Lundquist/ Nevada Appeal
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During their five-minute walk home from Fritsch Elementary School Monday afternoon, Katherine, Brandon and David all sported new tennis shoes – Katherine in pink tennies, Brandon in white ones and David in dark high-tops.

All they did was go to school Monday; they had no idea they were getting shoes.

“I was surprised when my teacher said to go down to the office,” said Katherine. “I thought my mom was here.”

Instead of finding her mom, she entered a side room off the main office at Fritsch Elementary to see boxes upon boxes of shoes piled on a table, brought there by Kim Riggs, director of the Carson City School District’s Children-in-Transition program.

The shoes on Katherine’s feet were checkered pink-and-black. Her older brother had once thrown them in the pool, so she was ready for a new pair.

It didn’t take long to find pink ones among the choices Riggs had brought in for the 50 children identified as in-need at Fritsch Elementary.

“They’re awesome,” the 7-year-old Katherine said. “The old shoes of mine, every time I wear them, they fall off my feet. I hate losing my shoes.”

Each year, Riggs coordinates a community shoe drive with Payless Shoe Source manager Autumn Smith. Customers can buy shoes for children who live in low-income homes, including campgrounds and motels.

One girl at Fritsch came in wearing a size 2 and left in a size 4. Another boy wore tennis shoes with the plastic ridges nearly worn off the bottom and the shoes looking ready to fall apart. They both left in new pairs.

“The kids are so appreciative,” Riggs said.

But about 150 students remain in need.

Children from Bordewich-Bray, Empire, Mark Twain, Seeliger and Carson High School still need shoes.

Socks are also needed.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church just called Riggs on Monday and said they would buy the remainder of the shoes, about 30, needed for Carson Middle School students.

Brightly colored tags for children in need are posted at Payless Shoe Source and include the child’s name, age and school. Employees will help select trendy shoes for those needing assistance.

“That’s one of the reasons I like going to Payless,” said Riggs. “Autumn makes sure all her employees help customers get stylish shoes (for the kids).”

Riggs has already been to Eagle Valley Middle School to distribute shoes there. Before letting any child walk away, Riggs makes sure the shoes fit both in width and length, that they don’t flop off, and that toes aren’t squished in the top.

Beatriz, a fourth-grader at Fritsch, tried on four pair of tennis shoes before settling on a pair of black Airwalks with blue stripes.

Just last week, a relative told her there wasn’t enough money for a new pair.

“They feel really good,” Beatriz said. “I’m used to coming to school and getting homework and stuff, and instead I get new shoes.”

• Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at moneill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

You can help

WHAT: Easter Shoe Drive for students

WHEN: Until April 9

WHERE: Payless Shoe Source, 911 Topsy Lane

CALL: 267-1389 or 690-1303