Thanks to a recent donation, Soles of Luv will expand its mission by distributing supplies to one more area school.
Soles of Luv, an Austintown-based nonprofit organization with the mission of providing shoes and socks to needy children and adults, received a $1,000 donation from Columbia Gas of Ohio. The organization will now be able to add another school to its rotating list.
"Columbia Gas of Ohio gave us the check for $1,000 on Feb. 17, or Random Acts of Kindness Day," Soles of Luv co-founder Cathy Crawford said. "It is because of Columbia Gas and many other sponsors that we are able to reach out to so many children. We could not do what we do without their help, kindness and generosity."
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Soles of Luv volunteers and founders, in front, Cathy Crawford, in center row, Heidi Tonus and Heather Eusebio, and in back, Sam Barkett and Ailene Moore are all smiles after receiving a $1,000 donation from Columbia Gas of Ohio.
Soles of Luv began a few years ago to ensure young children had a decent pair of shoes to wear. It provides new shoes and socks to homeless and less fortunate men, women and children in the community.
Since it began, the organization continually reaches out to local schools and now serves students in Austintown Elementary, Southside Academy Elementary, Williamson Elementary, Harding Elementary and Martin Luther King Elementary schools.
"With the Columbia Gas donation, we will be expanding our program into the Lisbon and Salem area," Crawford said. "We will be adding McKinley Elementary School in Lisbon to our list."
Crawford said Soles of Luv begins with the school administration, which gives the organization the names, ages, gender and shoe sizes of 25 needy children. When that number is reached, a volunteer team will show up with shoes for those kids. In most cases, the sizes match, but every once in a while, there is a misstated size. However, Crawford said the organization is usually prepared if a shoe doesn't fill.
"Recently, one child had sores on his feet because he was wearing the wrong size," Crawford said. "We carry extra shoes with us just in case. We will always give the child the correct fit of shoe."
She mentioned another case where a young child marked down size 13 as what he needed. After the team arrived, they found the child actual took a size 7. He was wearing size 13 shoes because his father had given him a pair of his own shoes.
"We always try for the perfect fit," Soles of Luv co-founder Heather Eusebio said. "We carry backup sizes in our cars."
Besides the shoes, the students also will receive new socks and a colorful drawstring reusable bag to carry their school books and supplies. The most important thing for the children is the empty shoe box. Crawford said the children love that empty box and will use it for their crayons and pencils in school, or can take it home and keep their favorite toys in them.
Crawford said many of the children who get their new pair of shoes will go off dancing and jumping for joy. Those new shoes and socks are like a big ego boost for the child, and can stir a tear in the volunteer's eye, she said.
To learn more about Soles of Luv, or to sponsor a child, visit www.solesofluv.com. The program runs October through May, with one school served each month. The organization said poverty isn't seasonal and people can help by volunteering at a local school, sponsoring a child, donating money or purchasing athletic shoes and socks for an adult or child.