If you want to put a smile on a child’s face, donate a pair of tennis shoes to the “Tennies for Kids” campaign.

If you want to put a smile on a child’s face, donate a pair of tennis shoes to the “Tennies for Kids” campaign.

Your donations will give children and teens a new pair of sneakers when they go back to school in August in a new project sponsored by the Community of Christ Stone Church.

Donna Siegel and Betty Snapp knew they had to take action when they found that two-thirds of all children and teens in the Independence School District are enrolled in the free- and reduced-price lunch program. In 2009, nearly 564 kids in Independence were considered homeless, and the numbers continue to increase.

“This project is for the entire community,” said Donna. “We invite everyone – individuals, faith-based organizations, businesses and others – to participate.”

Inspired by her own wish for a new pair of shoes when she was a child, she doesn’t want any child to go without the shoes they so desperately need.

When Donna was 6 years old, her father couldn’t find work and her wish for a new pair of shoes was only a dream. But one windy day, as Donna played outside, leaves and dust blew around her. Suddenly the wind carried a tin can toward her and it landed at her feet. She picked it up and looked inside.

To her surprise, she found a $5 bill. With joy and excitement she showed it to her mother and grandparents, who were amazed. The next day she went to town with her mother, who bought Donna a new pair of black patent leather shoes to wear to the upcoming Easter pageant.   

It might sound like a simple request. However, it is a reality that many kids are wearing hand-me-downs that are too big or too small, or shoes like my dad wore when he was a kid. His shoes were so worn, they had holes in them. He said he found a piece of cardboard, cut two pieces to fit and placed them in the bottom of his shoes. When the rain and snow came, his feet were cold and nearly froze in the winter.

Let’s make sure every child in Independence goes to school this fall wearing shoes that fit and that will keep them warm, dry and able to fully participate in all school activities.  

Donations are being accepted through July 15 at the Stone Church, 1012 W. Lexington Ave. (the corner of Lexington and River Boulevard). Come to the west entrance on Bowen Street, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is 816-254-2211.

For more information, contact Donna at rlddsiegel@sbcglobal.net or Betty at bsnapp@swbell.net. Please enter “Tennies for Kids” in the subject line.

Donations will be delivered to the Community Services League in time for its Back to School Campaign that begins Aug. 8. If you know of a child or teen in need of shoes, please direct them to the Community Services League at 816-254-4100.

Au revoir!