GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Scott Vandenakker has a job, but money is too tight to get new shoes for his kids. But he and many other families will be able to get shoes for their kids through a program started a few years ago by In The Image.
"Money's tight everywhere. I don't know anybody with too much money," Vandenakker told 24 Hour News 8. "My kids grow up and need shoes all the time. They can't make it through a whole school year with one pair of shoes."
And that's why Jay Starkey of In The Image began this free shoe giveaway, that this year will supply about 9,000 students with shoes.
"I struggled with poverty. We didn't have anything growing up," Starkey said. But he added there's another reason he started this effort, Shoes Help Our Elementary Students (SHOES.)
One person told him, "'I'm putting myself through CC and I never would've got a new pair of shoes if it wasn't for In the Image.'"
That highlights, to him, the sense of dignity kids get with a new pair of shoes.
"Whenever you see the kids' faces, that makes everything worth it," he said.
In The Image now targets 25 local schools in Grand Rapids, Kentwood, and Wyoming. Schools qualify by having over 80% of students on a free or reduced lunch program.
The shoes will be given away at In The Image, 1823 S. Division, between August 22-September 1.
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