Having shoes for every season is something many take for granted. It’s also something that has captured the heart of Wittenberg University’s department of education, which recently decided to partner with Fulton Elementary School in the Springfield City School District in a service event on Friday, Nov. 9, to benefit the local charity Shoes 4 the Shoeless.
“Fulton Elementary, one of our partner schools, contacted me about partnering with the Shoes 4 the Shoeless program. I shared the program with the department faculty and staff and showed a video,” said Brian Yontz, associate professor of education and chair of the department. “As teacher educators, we quickly realized that meeting students’ physical, social, and emotional needs is critical when we try to address their cognitive needs in the classroom. It did not take much convincing for the faculty and staff to want to partner. We agreed to promote this with our students to facilitate the staffing for this event.”
“The video was a powerful reminder that there are local children who are struggling to have their basic needs met, like food, clothing, and shelter. Shoes can be one of those items that get overlooked if a family is struggling to make ends meet, and it’s hard for kids to focus and succeed in school if any of their basic needs aren’t being met,” said Jenna Unterseher, academic department assistant in education and health, fitness, and sport, who helped to organize the event.
Sarah Jurewicz, assistant professor of health, fitness, and sport, invited her Introduction to Sport Management class to participate as well, and more than 60 students have already signed up to work this event, including those in Yontz’s Sociological Perspectives in Education course.
The Shoes 4 the Shoeless event takes place from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and requires approximately 100 volunteers for two shifts. Volunteers will distribute shoes and help find the right fit for each of the 377 children signed up to receive shoes at Fulton.
“Many of us will be volunteering at this event. In addition, our department felt pretty strong about doing a ‘sock drive’ to collect socks for the children at Fulton taking part in this event,” Yontz added. “We have a long history working with Fulton Elementary School. Their staff has helped prepare numerous teachers from Wittenberg over the years. They have hired a number of Wittenberg-prepared teachers, and their principal, Dr. Sherry Cross, has taught in our department. In addition, I hosted their Summer Teacher Professional Development Day on our campus this past summer.”
If you are interested in volunteering, please sign up by Nov. 2 in Blair Hall, room 119. Donations of new socks (all sizes needed) are also being accepted at the same location. You can place the socks in the sock box, pictured above, and made by Robbin Nicol, director of field placement and outreach.
“Shoes 4 the Shoeless seemed to be a good fit for the department of education because, as educators, we care about the whole person. They are working to meet a real need in the lives of children, and our Wittenberg students can help make that happen,” Unterseher said. “The Shoes 4 the Shoeless program also exemplifies our motto, ‘Having light we pass it on to others.’ It was obvious that this was an opportunity we didn’t want to pass up, especially since we will be working with children in grades K-5 at an elementary school Wittenberg already has a significant partnership with.”
According to its website, Shoes 4 the Shoeless Inc. is a local non-profit providing new, properly fitted gym shoes and socks to Dayton-area children in need. Since its founding in 2010, the charity has delivered more than 50,000 pairs of shoes and socks to disadvantaged children within the Dayton, Ohio, region. Wearing worn or ill-fitting shoes often condemns children to physical, social, and emotional problems that can last a lifetime. For more information on Shoes 4 the Shoeless, go to http://shoes4theshoeless.org/