The halls of Colvin Elementary squeak with the sound of fresh sneakers, all from Boeing Wichita employees’ annual shoe distribution Monday morning.
With socks bunched and bundled up, children from kindergarten to fifth grade filed into one of 12 shoe-fitting stations throughout the day to find the perfect fit for their feet.
“They feel great,” third-grader Vincent Williams said after receiving his new Airwalk sneakers. “I like them way better than the shoes I have now.”
He made sure to add a “thank you” to the approximately 25 volunteers who assisted at the event.
The event, which took place at multiple low-income schools in the area — Colvin, Cooper Elementary, Oaklawn Elementary and Jardine Technology Magnet Middle School — provides an early present for the children.
“Just to see the excitement on the kids’ faces is great,” said Shelly Huff, project leader for the event. “It’s very gratifying to know that we’re providing something they might not otherwise have had.”
Around 1,800 students will have received shoes, socks, sweatshirts, hats and gloves to keep warm over the break. Besides Boeing, other companies who contributed include: Payless Shoe Source, Hatman Jacks and Shirts Plus.
“When we first started doing this, we saw people coming through the sleet and snow in clumps,” said Chrissie Nixon, Boeing’s community relations manager. “We feel like we’re doing preventative medicine by keeping them healthy, keeping their feet dry and warm.”
This is the sixth year Boeing has sponsored the shoe event, though it could be its last, due to the company’s pending move, Nixon said.
“We may keep this going for another year or so,” Nixon said. “We’re currently looking for a community partner to step up and take over the event.”
The shoe distribution was not the only program going on at Colvin on Monday.
Cross Road Fellowship Bible Church was back at the school for its annual food box giveaway.
Approximately 98 percent of Colvin students qualify for free- or reduced-price lunches and eat at the school daily. When school is out of session, those students lose their typical source of lunch.
Cross Road has been helping provide those students healthy meals over vacation breaks for about nine years now.
“Our ministry is to feed the children while they’re away from school,” volunteer Laiketa Brown said.
The boxes, which are packed with spaghetti, rice, soup, celery, peanut butter, tuna, vegetables, cookies and various other items are designed to provide meal staples for families to prepare easily, Brown said.
Churchgoers at Cross Road packed 350 boxes over the weekend, at a cost of about $30 per box. Each family will receive at least two boxes, possibly more depending on the size of the family. All of the funding for the venture comes directly from Cross Road members and supporters.
“This is not about us,” volunteer Brenda Fredlund said. “This is about what the Lord is leading us to do.”