Sunday, November 19 , 2017, 5:28 am | Fair 42º

 
 
 
 

Shoes For Students Nonprofit Works To Keep Santa Maria Youths On Good Footing

Santa Maria Valley group's golf tournament and silent auction fundraiser set for Sunday

Dona Kintzi’s Orcutt Academy High School students turned shoes into artwork to be auctioned off at Shoes for Students fundraiser Sunday in Santa Maria. Click to view larger
Dona Kintzi’s Orcutt Academy High School students turned shoes into artwork to be auctioned off at Shoes for Students fundraiser Sunday in Santa Maria. (Contributed photo)

A Santa Maria Valley organization has quietly stepped up to outfit students in need and ensure youths have proper footwear for school.

Shoes for Students will hold its 17th annual golf tournament Sunday, the organization’s primary fundraiser.

“The mission of shoes for students is getting children what they need so they can be healthy, happy, confident learners,” said Maggie White, Shoes for Students board president and a Santa Maria-Bonita School District employee.  

“So keeping them in school, making them comfortable in school so that they’re not thinking about their ratty shoes or they’re not thinking about the clothes that smell bad because it’s the only set they have,” White said.

Since its start, the organization has helped approximately 6,000 students, White said.

While multiple agencies in the community help children and families with other needs such as housing, food and medical bills, Shoes for Student saw a gap.

“We know that we have this specific niche that we fill, which is shoes and clothing for children and it’s primarily distributed through the schools. They’re our eyes and ears,” White said.

The nonprofit group has operated since 1998 after members of the real estate industry, including agents, mortgage brokers and pest control employees donated to Shoes for Schools for each house transaction. 

Since then, the organization’s leadership has broadened slightly while fulfilling the same mission — supply funding for footwear and clothing to students identified by school staff or social organizations as needing a step up.

Tape covers a Santa Maria Valley boy’s shoes, which were replaced with a new pair thanks to Shoes for Students. Click to view larger
Tape covers a Santa Maria Valley boy’s shoes, which were replaced with a new pair thanks to Shoes for Students.  (Contributed photo)

“It’s still made up of a lot of people from the real estate community,” White said, adding that many other members come from the education community. 

In some successful years, Shoes for Students helped out other nonprofit groups that work with youths. Gift cards are also provided to veterans' children through the annual ​Santa Barbara County Veterans Stand Down.

In addition to referrals from school staff, Shoes for Students works with Good Samaritan Shelter, Child Abuse Listening Mediation, Boys and Girls Club of Santa Maria Valley and other groups that may learn of a student lacking proper footwear.

Recipients get gift cards to shop at Payless Shoe Source or Walmart, with receipts checked to confirm purchase benefit the child. 

“For a lot of the students we hear that being able to go shopping at Payless and Walmart is oftentimes the first new clothes they get,” White said.

One call came when a counselor noted a boy wearing his uncle’s far-too-big shoes, White said. In another instance, duct tape covered more than half of another youth’s shoes. One boy showed up at school wearing soccer cleats, his only good footwear.

When an apartment complex fire left several families in need, Shoes For Students helped out to ensure youths didn’t miss school. 

“There’s a lot of need in our community,”White said.

Art students decorated shoes to raise money for the Shoes for Students nonprofit that outfits Santa Maria Valley students in need. Click to view larger
Art students decorated shoes to raise money for the Shoes for Students nonprofit that outfits Santa Maria Valley students in need.  (Contributed photo)

The program has focused on elementary and junior high school students in the Orcutt Union and Santa Maria-Bonita districts, but hopes to expand to help high-schoolers if fundraising proves successful.

The fundraising golf tournament at the Santa Maria Country Club, with a four-person scramble, kicks off at noon Sunday, with registration at 10 a.m. Registration is $150 per player.

For those who want to only attend the dinner, the cost is $35 per person. Registration and information are available by calling 805.331.6204 or 805.361.8113 or emailing [email protected]

The event will include a silent auction of Orcutt Academy High School students’ artworks on white canvas shoes featuring colorful and intricate designs.

“We had a great time and it truly was collaborative,” said Dona Kintzi, an art teacher at Orcutt Academy High School. 

“The students felt empowered to be able to be a part of something so good for others,”​ Kintzi said.

Cesar Hernandez from Life Purpose Boot Camp will give a motivational speech.

“Shoes for Students just wants to fill the need,” White said. “We don’t make a big production out of it because we do want to empower the families. We do want to empower the children. It needs to be about empowerment, rather than embarrassment.

“They’re not asking for a handout. They’re just getting a little bit of help.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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