For 12 years, the GSF Foundation in Irvine has provided shoes to children at the local elementary school, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary. And how welcome those deliveries are! Many children who attend the school come from impoverished families and often spend months wearing the same ill-fitted, tattered shoes; it is not uncommon to see a little girl in their brother’s hand-me-down sneakers.
From the very first time that GSF Irvine associates delivered shoes to the school and saw the children’s faces light up, they knew it was a perfect partnership and an incredible opportunity. Since then, once or twice a year, Irvine associates receive a list of students at the school who are desperately in need of shoes. Each associate picks one or more names off the list and purchases brand new shoes just for them. Before associates receive the list, teachers and/or parent helpers at the school measure each child’s foot to make sure they receive comfortable shoes that fit properly. The best part is that the associates have the opportunity to personally deliver the shoes that they buy for the students.
During their last Best Foot Forward event, which took place on May 7, 18 associates participated and 140 pairs of new shoes were donated. In each of the last five shoe deliveries at least 100 pairs of shoes have been provided to students at MLK Jr. Elementary.
“Being new to both Golden State Foods and the GSF Foundation, this shoe drive was my first event,” said Alan Lullman, GSF Foundation Program Development Specialist. “The smiles and excitement witnessed on the children’s faces as they opened up their new shoebox was far beyond my expectations. Thanks to our Foundation and the associates; we were able to give these students a much needed new pair of shoes as they head into the summer months.”
Shirley Schaal, Legal Executive Assistant, will never forget the little boy who wouldn’t give up the shoes after he tried them on. His feet had grown and the shoes were too small. She explained that she’d take the shoes back to the store and buy him another pair in the larger size and return with them the next day, but he wouldn’t let go of the shoes. He insisted they fit just right, and back to class he went! Of course, Shirley went to the store that night, bought the correct size, and dropped them off at the school the next morning.
“Our true goal for this program has always been to provide new shoes to any child when they truly need them, not just once or twice a year,” Pam Kravitz, Corporate Benefits Administrator, explained. “So, we were thrilled to respond to a request for two additional pairs of shoes for students at a charter school in Santa Ana. These children were living out of a car with their mother due to a difficult family situation. They came to our attention through another community outreach program. While a delivery for a normal shoe drive takes two to three weeks to pull off, a quick drop-off for one or two kids can be done in just a matter of a day or two.”