Part of the main office of the Community Services League in Independence becomes a shoe store for a day this Saturday as families get ready for school to start next week.

“We’re anticipating about 1,500 people being at the Back to School Fair this Saturday,” said Vice President Lynn Rose.

One of the first things students and parents will see is rows and rows of shoes. The Tennies for Kids program, begun in 2010, has the aim of making sure every student who needs a new pair of shoes for the school year gets one.

Organizer Donna Siegel pointed to the challenges that many students in the community face. They’re not sure where they’re sleeping tonight. Maybe their clothes haven’t been washed for a couple of weeks. Maybe their shoes are ripped and falling apart. And here comes the start of school.

“You don’t want tomorrow to come because you know you’re going to be around other kids,” Siegel said. “That’s a horrible thing.”

Tennies for Kids addresses at least part of that. The Back to School Fair also includes giving out backpacks and school supplies, and it has elements of fun and learning, too: DARE officers, the Fire Department, the Zoomobile and Sluggerrr. Participants have to sign up in advance, and the Community Services League says the 1,500 slots are full.

Shoes also are distributed at other CSL offices throughout Eastern Jackson County, and the program relies on help from many.

“It’s definitely a community effort,” Siegel said.

This is the program’s busiest time, but the need for shoes – as well as the other things the CSL does – is constant.

“The need is year-round,” Rose said.

So is fundraising for Tennies for Kids. Five dine-and-donate events – at Papa Murphy’s, Perkins, Zio’s and La Fuente – raised about $1,000. That’s 100 pairs of shoes. Other supporters include the Goppert Financial Foundation, the Midtown Optimists, the Groves, the Young Matrons and the Slusher family, which at one time had a shoe store on the Square. Several local churches help, too.

“We have to start thinking about this way ahead of time,” said organizer Betty Snapp.

Other events help, too. The annual Coalition of Women Helping Children fashion show – it’s “Fifty Shades of Denim” this year – is Aug. 22 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel. Call 816-912-4485 for more information. That money goes for Community Services League programs that focus on children, such as Tennies for Kids.

About 35 percent of those the group serves are children.

“We see a lot of kids,” Rose said.