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Students line up for new shoes

WICHITA — More than 900 children are getting a new pair of shoes, socks, gloves and a hat today, thanks to Boeing employees, Payless ShoeSource and other sponsors.

Children at Colvin Elementary School — where more than 95 percent of students are economically disadvantaged — lined up by class for the annual giveaway just inside the school entrance. Local Boeing managers handed out boxes of shoes, while Payless employees and other volunteers helped fit the children with their new sneakers.

"I love it. I really do," said Chelsey Isam, a Payless employee, as she helped pre-kindergartner Jesus Lucero lace up his new pair of black and silver shoes. His old shoes were a size 9; the new ones are size 10 1/2.

"I know they're quiet and everything, but you just know they're so grateful."

The giveaway is an annual project sponsored by the Boeing Employees Community Fund. Students at Cooper and Oaklawn Elementary Schools in Derby will get shoes Tuesday, and Jardine Middle School students will get free sweatshirts Wednesday.

"To them, this means something along the lines of a new car," said Deanna Joynes, a social worker at Colvin. "This is their primary mode of transportation. They walk to school in rain, snow, cold weather. . . . We have students whose shoes are worn through, with holes on the bottom. To get a new pair just means the world to them."

Five-year-old Nikki McKenzie smiled as she walked down the hallway in her new pink and silver sneakers. "I can jump in them and balance on them," she said. "I think they're nice."

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