Stepping up to help

Bill Althaus
Three junior members of the Truman High School dance squad, the Starsteppers, from left, Tristyn Perryman, Miranda Free and Erica Elefson, recently spent four hours at the Community Services League office on Noland Road sorting shoes that will be donated to those in need throughout Eastern Jackson County.

It’s a few minutes before 9 a.m. and the line of those in need is already beginning to form in front of the Community Services League office on Noland Road just off the Square in Independence.

Inside, three junior members of the Truman High School dance team, the Starsteppers, are busy sorting hundreds of donated shoes that will be given to those in need in Eastern Jackson County.

“I wasn’t aware of what the Community Services League did before we came down here,” Erica Elefson said. “We’re going through such a tough time here in Independence and with our country because of the pandemic, and being here – helping these people in a small way – really gives me hope!”

“I’m so happy I volunteered to come and help. It just makes me feel good.”

Her teammates nodded in agreement.

“When we got here, we saw boxes and boxes of shoes, in all sizes, and I was wondering what we would do and how long it would take,” Miranda Free said, “but once we started, I realized the impact the Community Services League was making on our community and it just made me happy.

“And you know how important a new pair of shoes can be to a kid. I love getting new shoes and so many kids are getting them, and in some small way, we’re able to help.”

Tristyn Perryman knows the importance of volunteer work, as she spends many hours at places such as Harvesters, the Community Food Network.

“If I can do anything to help make someone happy, especially a child, I’m all for it,” Perryman said. “This is great. I get to spend time with my friends and we’re helping people and that’s what it’s all about.

“Especially during the time of COVID. We don’t know if we’re going to be able to get together tomorrow or the next day because all the guidelines change, so we have to make the most of every minute we are together.”

“I love my girls (on the Starsteppers) and I love to volunteer, so this is the best of both worlds for me.”

Community Services League President and CEO Doug Cowan said he’s thankful that he has Truman, William Chrisman and Van Horn high schools in Independence when there is a daunting task that demands helping hands.

“We are so fortunate to have the three high schools,’ Cowan said. “We had two trucks with 700 boxes of socks, and members of the Truman and William Chrisman football teams had them unloaded and stored in our warehouse in nothing flat – it was remarkable.”

“Whenever I am in need of someone to help with projects like this, I call the high schools and get immediate help. This time we had over 2,500 pairs of shoes to give out, and I think volunteering for something like this helps students realize that there is a need in their community.”