Volunteers buy shoes for needy students in Putnam County

Volunteers with Putnam Shoes for Children purchase shoes to help needy students. (Courtesy of Putnam Shoes for Children)

With winter making a comeback with snow and cold temperatures in the forecast, volunteers are trying to make sure students have the proper shoes through an effort called Putnam Shoes for Children.

Educators said shoes are an important part of the learning process.

"If a student has to come to school and has shoes that are torn, they will have wet feet. That will lead them to think about their feet rather than the lesson going on," said Valerie Fowler, principal at West Teays Elementary School.

That is where Putnam Shoes for Children steps in to help. Shawn Pye's mother started the group three years ago. During that time , volunteers have given 600 pairs of shoes to needy students in Putnam County. The schools provide a list and volunteers buy shoes for an individual student.

"Within that list, it does not tell us the child's name. All it says is they give then child a number. They measure their feet. They give us a shoe size and they tell us male or female," said Shawn Pye, a manager with Putnam Shoes for Children.

The effort relies solely on donations.

"It makes me feel amazing. We're helping individuals who need this," Pye said.

On Jan. 16, volunteers will buy the shoes, and then the following day school leaders will give the shoes to the students who need them in a way as to not embarrass them.

Fowler said students "need the self-confidence that a new pair of shoes will give them. They will feel good about themselves."

The principal said the comfort and pride that comes with a new pair of shoes will help students better focus on their schoolwork. Seven elementary schools in Putnam County will be getting a shoe delivery.

Pye said the group has partnered with Shoe Carnival and Dick's Sporting Goods to buy shoes at discounted prices.

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