COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Helping kids put their best foot forward – one laced-up shoe at a time.
That's the goal of SOLE Stepping, LLC, a Lexington non-profit that aims to give shoes to kids who need them. The group's founder is an area teacher who saw a need when some of her students were showing up to school during the winter in flip-flops and improper footwear.
This is the group's second year raising funds, and in 2016, was responsible for putting shoes on 505 students at a local elementary school.
"There really is no way to describe how it makes you feel... to see the sparkle in the kids' eyes," said Laura Day, SOLE Stepping's Treasurer. "To see them light up. Because hey, their parents don't have to worry about their shoes. They have shoes that will keep their feet warm that isn't going to pinch them. They don't have to worry about sand getting up in them while they're at recess. I can't describe it. It's amazing. It really is amazing."
This year, the funds will provide shoes to two elementary schools that will remain anonymous to protect the identity of the kids who get them. Day hopes to raise enough funds to put shoes on 1,215 kids in two schools at about $40 a pair.
SOLE Stepping is asking the public for donations to make that dream a reality. Once the group raises the funds, they'll purchase the shoes in partnership with Academy Sports and Outdoors on Harbison Boulevard in Columbia.
The store's director, Eric Gifford, said he has a 5-year-old son and understands the need for shoes that fit an ever-growing child.
"It means everything," Gifford said. "Whether it's right or not, we know what kids are like to each other and when they have that 'swag' to use the proper term on their feet, it's a confidence builder. It starts there and works its way up."
Donations can be made through any First Citizens Bank in the area – just mention you'd like to donate to "SOLE Stepping." They can also be sent to 508 Hartley Street, Batesburg, SC 29006 or through First Baptist Church of Lexington.