Hundreds of D.C.-based children received a new pair of sneakers Saturday, which organizers hope will lessen the burden on their families and provide hope for their futures.
In total, Elevation Church’s outreach group distributed over 900 shoes in one day in the D.C. region. Its biggest event came at the Metropolitan Police Department’s Youth and Family Services Division gym in Northeast, where 500 kids received new sneakers and socks.
The church — based in Matthews, North Carolina — told WTOP it partners with organizations from around the world to meet the needs of local communities.
John Nichols, the organization’s outreach director, said giving kids shoes helps parents and makes children feel confident to face the world.
“If we can come in and fill that fiscal and financial need for your family, that takes the burden off of them,” Nichols said. “Then, they may be able to use that money for schooling, child care, housing, food, whatever.”
Samaritan’s Feet volunteered during the giveaway and provided a “Hope Tote” with an encouraging message for the kids. Kyle Alexander, the nonprofit’s regional programming manager, said the event was part of their effort to give away 10 million shoes this year.
“Our volunteers actually sit down with a kid, and they talk about what their dreams are and what they want to do with their lives and get them excited and motivate them, encourage them,” Alexander said. “And the shoes are just a vehicle to share hope and love and encouragement.”
D.C. police, along with the DC Police Foundation, helped locate the recipients in most need and could be most impacted by a free pair of shoes. Rebecca Schwartz from the DC Police Foundation said the event is not only about the spirit of service but also building trust.
“You need to have a police force that’s representative of the community you serve, that wants to engage with the community you serve, and that’s also from the community,” said Schwartz. “We want the community, the kids, the families to know that police are here to be supportive.”
“Making the day a little brighter for District residents is in our agency’s DNA and a cornerstone of community policing,” D.C. police Chief Robert Contee III said in a statement. “It’s through these valued partnerships that we can make lasting impressions and have positive community impacts.”
Volunteers also visited the Deanwood Recreation Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, to gift shoes and socks to children.