William Wells Brown Elementary

Lexington, Kentucky

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  • 'Shoes That Fit' brings sneakers and smiles

    Students were excited to receive new sneakers.

    Every student at William Wells Brown Elementary is sporting a brand-new pair of athletic sneakers, thanks to the generosity of area donors and a California-based nonprofit called Shoes That Fit. Judy Construction Co. and Hall’s Beer and Cheese provided for over 400 pairs in a schoolwide giveaway where volunteers handed out shoeboxes May 10 in the gym. “I want to give them a shout-out for sponsoring us. It’s a blessing,” said fifth-grader NaZari Gillispie, who thinks the gifts will definitely make a difference in students’ lives. “My class is excited and happy,” he added. 

    Having new, proper-fitting shoes can increase a child’s self-esteem and physical activity levels as well as improve behavior and school attendance. Assistant Principal Jennifer Harris-Mitchell noted that students need certain necessities in order to focus and learn. “A lot of our kids need shoes to feel more comfortable and to fit in (with their peers),” she said. “We don’t want any of our children feeling ‘less than.’” 

    Among the volunteers on hand were former University of Kentucky athletes Jack “Goose” Givens (basketball) and Jacob Tamme (football), who matched kids’ shoe sizes with their nametags. “I grew up with hand-me-downs so I know what it’s like not to be able to afford a new pair of shoes,” said Givens, whose family lived in the William Wells Brown neighborhood. “It means something to me to come back and help out.” 

    Shoes That Fit, which Congressman Andy Barr’s office referred to this East End school, brought several top brands such as Fila, Nike, and Reebok. School staff had measured the students’ feet in advance, and the children tried on their new shoes back in their classrooms. “For a lot of them, it’s the first time they’ve gotten something new just for them,” said Janell Barrett-Jones of Shoes That Fit, who said the gift could transform a child’s outlook. “Our goal is that no child doesn’t have a new pair of shoes.”

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