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Needy Philadelphia Schoolkids Getting Free Shoes

Father Joel Gillam of Upper Darby is helping distribute free shoes to needy schoolkids.  Credit: Ian Bush)

Father Joel Gillam of Upper Darby is helping distribute free shoes to needy schoolkids. Credit: Ian Bush)

Ian Bush Ian Bush
Ian Bush is an anchor, reporter, news editor, and technology editor&nb...
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By Ian Bush

 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thousands of kids in Philadelphia are starting the school year off with a new pair of shoes, thanks to a fashionable brand and a Christian charity.

They’re not the newest Nikes, but these “Toms” sneakers are great for gym class.

“We have black and white, basic styles,” says Al Quarles, head of Homeless and Emergency Services for the School District of Philadelphia.  “For younger children we have velcro; we have lace-up for older children.”

All the way up to size 14, he adds.  They will be giving out almost 3,500 pairs of sneakers to homeless and low-income families.

“We’re going to make sure every child that we can come in contact with who needs a pair of shoes has one.”

 

Father Joel Gillam, pastor at St. George Orthodox Church in Upper Darby (top photo), works with the nonprofit group “Focus North America” to hand out kicks across the country.

 

“A small group of preschoolers came in and we were able to watch them try on these new shoes and velcro them and get up and move around and dance a bit,” he says, “and really big smiles!”

And he says that “having shoes to go to school with, to grow, to participate in gym classes, to just have dry feet is really an important experience.”

Toms is pledging to help give more than a million pairs of shoes to kids in the US by the end of next year.