The Stillwater sneaker drive received over 500 pairs of shoes, and nearly a week after ending the drive, organizers said shoes are still being donated, some outside of Stillwater.
Stillwater Public Schools, Grand Lake Mental Health Center and The Salvation Army collaborated with the community and local businesses to aid in the success of the sneaker drive.
“We are so grateful for our community and we need to continue to work with them and support them back,” SPS Social Worker Diana Nolan said. “That collaboration is so important. If I had just done the sneaker drive by myself it would not have been as successful.”
Debra Thompson, with Grand Lake Mental Health, said the sneaker drive was a big success, even though it was the first year to do this.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done it,” Thompson said. “The need is great, I’m really happy with it. The way everybody came together with it was incredible, everybody was on board.”
On Wednesday a local teenager was given a pair of brand new shoes from the sneaker drive. Thompson said the teen was beyond grateful to be given the shoes.
“Yesterday I took a child there, she’s 17 and she said ‘I never knew I could have such nice shoes,’” Thompson said.
Nolan said it feels great knowing the first pair of shoes was a success story and she said this will be a yearly donation. With over 500 shoes so far, Nolan said at least 500 families will be impacted by this shoe drive.
Shoes aren’t the only donation helping local kids and families – this is a small piece in a much larger puzzle.
“Generally what happens is when we’re helping with shoes, we’re not just helping with shoes,” Nolan said. “We have those conversations … sometimes shoes are the tip of the iceberg. As we talk to them, if we find out there are other needs that we can address, we do.”
Nolan said the bus was a visual representation to show the community versus giving a goal amount. Although the bus wasn’t filled entirely, Nolan said a “huge impact” was made.
Nolan said transportation is a barrier everywhere, but especially Stillwater.
She said a lot of families and their children will walk around town together.
“For a lot of our families those shoes are not just a pretty accessory, they’re a necessity because they are on their feet, walking everywhere,” she said. “For our kids, especially, shoes are confidence because it is an accessory … They walk in, they’ve got shoes that look good, smell good, feel good. When all those things are happening you’re more prepared to learn.”
The goal of the sneaker drive was to help support families and children in need.
Although the sneaker drive ended, Thompson said they are still accepting donations and adult shoes are still needed.
“It seems like it would be really nice to have more women’s that are adult sizes that someone in high school or junior high would feel good about wearing,” Thompson said.