Operation Heart and Sole delivers 390 pairs of new shoes to Melcher Elementary students
On March 23 and 24, Melcher Elementary School students were treated with a present from Bishop Sullivan Center – 390 pairs of brand new shoes and socks.
After talking with school leaders, parents and community members, the local nonprofit organization determined one of the major needs for students within Kansas City Public Schools were shoes in good condition that fit properly. Operation Heart and Sole was developed in an effort to meet that need.
Since Operation Heart and Sole started in fall 2015, the program has distributed shoes to almost 1,700 students within KCPS.
“This program and the volunteers from Bishop Sullivan have touched everyone in our school,” Melcher Elementary Principal Patricia Hayes said. “The students, staff, teachers and parents have been positively affected by this generous gift.”
Center volunteers bring along three times the shoes needed in order to offer a choice for each child. Melcher students were able to select from almost 1,000 pairs of shoes in a variety of styles.
“We believe in the dignity of choice,” said Chanelle Zak, Director of Communications for Bishop Sullivan Center. “We want these students to have a similar selection as if they were shopping at the store. Kids love being able to choose their new shoes and come back the next day ready to learn.”
Throughout the course of the school year, Bishop Sullivan Center delivers new shoes to one school each month. They work closely with the school system to identify the schools with the most need and then work with that school’s staff to identify the students who receive socks and shoes.
“Often times, the students we meet have been squeezing their feet into shoes that are several sizes too small or their shoes are so worn down that their feet are exposed to the elements,” Zak said. “Students are able to return to recess, participate in gym again, and simply be a kid without worrying about something as simple, but important, as shoes.”
To date, students at Troost, Wendell Phillips at Attucks and Faxon elementary schools have received shoes this school year. Within the next six weeks, shoes will also be delivered to Gladstone, Benjamin Banneker and Primitivo Garcia elementary schools.
Providing new shoes is just one of the many services offered at Bishop Sullivan Center. The center also offers a food pantry, community dinner, household assistance, employment services, clothes closet for children and adults as well as legal services.
Operation Heart and Sole is made possible by individual donors and community drives. To learn more or to get involved, visit www.BishopSullivan.org/Operation-Heart-and-Sole.