Free athletic shoes available for kids at 38 schools in Kent County

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Kids at 38 different West Michigan schools can get a free pair of athletic shoes before they head back to the classroom. It’s part of a program put on each year by the nonprofit In The Image.

The Shoes Help Our Elementary Students program has been serving the community since 1996 and has provided brand new athletic shoes for over 65,000 students over the years. 

“The best thing about this program is when a kid gets excited about their shoes you know you do the whole reveal and you open up the shoe box and their eyes light up or they go, ‘I’ve never seen a pair of shoes like that,’ and they are just over the moon. That’s what this program is all about,” said In The Image executive director Bethann Egan. 

This year, SHOES is partnering with 38 elementary schools in five Kent County school districts to provide a free pair of athletic shoes to K-5th grade students.

This year’s partnered districts include Grand Rapids Public Schools, Godfrey Lee Public Schools, Godwin Heights Public Schools, Kentwood Public Schools, and Wyoming Public Schools.

Students must be registered for the 2021-2022 school year at one of the partnered elementary schools within these districts and should have a parent or guardian present. 

Shoes will be given out on a by appointment basis at the nonprofit’s new location at 4255 Kalamazoo Ave SE. Masks will be required and other safety measures will be implemented.

Parents and guardians are asked to pre-register for an appointment. Sessions run Monday through Saturday until Aug. 26.

To find out if a child is eligible you can either contact their school administrator or find a full list of partnering schools on the nonprofit’s website.

In The Image is seeking volunteers to help with the program. To sign up to volunteer or register your child, visit www.intheimage.org/shoes

If your child does not attend one of the partnering schools, In The Image’s Free Store is available to everyone in need of clothing and household necessities, including children’s shoes. You can set up a shopping appointment here

Because SHOES operates solely on community support, donations are always needed to ensure that the program can continue to run. If you’re interested in supporting the program, you can find more information here

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