County collecting gym shoes for needy students

DeKALB – The DeKalb County Health Department has already collected a couple of hundred pairs of shoes for needy children, but it needs more help.

The Shoes Share Program kicked off in April, but organizers still have a long way to go to meet their goal of collecting 2,000 pairs of shoes by June 7. The shoes will be used in gym class during the next academic school year.

“If you have children who typically go through a number of shoes, if they’re washed, they’re fine for kids to use for P.E.,” said Cindy Capek, DeKalb County Health Department assistant administrator.

Laundry Lounge, 818 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, volunteered to wash and bleach all of the shoes at no cost, but participants are still asked to donate clean, gently worn shoes.

Participants can simply drop off any size pair of shoes during normal business hours to the following locations: DeKalb County Health Department, 2550 N. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb; Haish Gym, 303 S. Ninth St., DeKalb; Kishwaukee YMCA, 2500 N. Bethany Road, DeKalb; Sandwich City Hall, 144 E. Railroad St., Sandwich; and the Genoa Fitness Center, 333 E. First St., Genoa.

Local DeKalb, Sycamore, Sandwich or Genoa-Kingston school buildings may also have drop-off locations. Call the county health department at 815-758-6673 to hear which schools have drop-off locations.

The Shoes Share Program began after county health department staff heard from school wellness team members that numerous students did not have gym shoes for their classes, according to a department news release.

Capek, who donated her own running shoes for the cause, remembered attending an event where she saw a boy in need.

“His sneakers were half torn,” she said. “I was thinking those are the kids we need to help.”

Officials will work directly with food pantries to take orders for kids who need shoes in July and distribute them in August before school begins, Capek said.

DeKalb Metal and Iron Co., is providing containers for shoes at the drop-off locations, and local Kiwanis Clubs will sort, organize and distribute the shoes this summer.

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