Share Your Soles Foundation Partners with Pathways school to Pilot First U.S. Distribution of Boots for Kids

“They fit!” This was the exclamation heard over and over as delighted students tried on boots in a small room across from the cafeteria at Eisenhower Elementary in Flint, Michigan. The students had earned the boots by completing three hours of kindness.

When Share Your Soles founder and Executive Director, Mona Purdy, asked the kids what they did to earn their boots, helping make dinner, raking leaves and cleaning their rooms were just some of the responses kids gave.

Over the past 15 years, Share Your Soles Foundation, based on the south side of Chicago, has delivered over 2 million pairs of shoes to children and adults around the world. Their visit to our Pathways school in Flint was what Purdy calls their maiden voyage to a U.S. port. And, the students couldn’t have been happier.

“Now, I have a pair of boots that fit,” said one child as she marched around in her new boots. Another child who came in with shoes that were three sizes too big, left not only with new boots but with new shoes from the school’s Community Room.

Landing at Eisenhower Elementary was no accident. It was the result of stellar networking by dedicated and compassionate Genesee County DHS staff.

When Demetrius Hunter, an Ongoing Children’s Protective Services worker for Genesee County, was approached by a member of Damascus Road Church where he’s a pastor, and asked if he knew any schools in Flint that could benefit from the Share Your Soles project, he immediately thought of our Pathways schools.

“I know that our agency is encouraging faith-based involvement so it was natural, knowing we [DHS] are already in the schools, to help get this done.”

Hunter contacted Sarina Harris, the Community School Coordinator in his office. “I knew Sarina could help us coordinate through the Pathways Program to get these boots to our children.”

And, Harris could not have been more pleased. “I think is so wonderful that Demetrius Hunter has nothing to do with Pathways to Potential but was willing to bring services to the schools. That really shows DHS working as a unit for the common goals of our families,” said, Harris.

 Rachel Turner, Principal, Eisenhower Elementary; Mona Purdy, Founder, Share Your Soles Foundation; Sandi Mose, Director, Genesee County DHS.

Over 300 children at Eisenhower Elementary earned new boots according to Mona Purdy, Share Your Soles Foundation, Founder. The event was such a success that Purdy is already planning to make the voyage to Flint an annual event. She has also expressed a desire to work with Pathways to Potential to expand to schools in the Detroit area.

As for Mr. Hunter, I don’t believe Pathways families have seen the last of him. “I have a strong desire to make sure that in any way possible, when the opportunity presents itself, I can work toward a better community. We believe in that at Damascus Road Church, and I operate the same way on the job as a CPS Ongoing Worker.”

This article is one of a series highlighting community partners working with DHS to improve attendance in Michigan schools. Through Pathways to Potential, Department of Human Services has placed success coaches and other employees in over 200 schools across the state. These people work one-on-one with families to identify and remove barriers to children attending school. We are always looking for new partners, volunteers and donors. Visit www.michigan.gov/pathwaystopotential to learn how you can get involved.