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Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Pair Of Happy Feet Can Go A Long Way

The Charities Guild of Northern Kentucky

Imagine as a child, having to walk to school everyday in the rain or snow with holes in your shoes or going to school with worn shoes, feeling embarrassed, not confident, not having a basic necessity such as a nice pair of footwear.

Unfortunately, hundreds of children in our community face this problem.

The Charities Guild of Northern Kentucky, a volunteer based, non-profit organization made up of 24 like-minded women focuses on improving the lives of children and families in the Northern Kentucky area through fundraising and outreach programs. This is one problem they aim to help solve with their Shoe Fund.

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Through the Shoe Fund, CGNK partners with area schools, churches, children's homes and social service agencies to identify those in need and distribute a $30 voucher for a new pair of shoes to those children. With the help of resource coordinators, school counselors and their parents, the children served can visit Burlington Coat Factory who has partnered with CGNK to provide shoes for the vouchers.

The Charities Guild of Northern Kentucky's Happy Feet Ball is this Saturday, November 4.

RELATED: Happy Feet Ball Provides Shoes to Local Underprivileged Youth

The Happy Feet Ball, their primary fundraiser is held each year to generate funds for the the CGNK Shoe Fund.

CGNK has provided thousands of pairs of shoes and socks for students over the past 25 years. 

"Last year alone, we helped warm the feet of nearly 360+ children in need, said Happy Feet Ball Co-Chair Shari Lecky.

Providing the basic need of a new pair of shoes has enormous benefits. The Shoe Fund vouchers give each child the opportunity to pick out their own pair of shoes while instilling confidence, independence and pride. Daily, the CGNK makes a positive impact on a child’s life and gives hope to these families."

This year, CGNK has distributed more than 800 shoe vouchers.

Maggie Fennell McCluskey, CGNK President said many of the students have never had a new pair of shoes; they are walking to school with holes in their socks and shoes school in the snow and rain.

"It is our honor and privilege to serve the community," McCluskey added.

Just imagine what a difference a pair of shoes can make. In a recent testimonial from Brighton Center Community & Youth Services Director Kate Arthur, she explains what that difference can mean.

She describes a young boy who came to Brighton Center's Homeward Bound, an emergency shelter for runaway, homeless, abused or neglected teens, serving children ages 11-17 that uses the Shoe Fund vouchers.

"The youth come to us off the streets or after being removed from their home due to an abusive or neglectful home situation. They often come to us with only the clothes they have on or a small garbage bag of clothes. We work to stabilize the youth, find a safe, stable environment.  We have all of the youth attend school and this is where the shoe vouchers are so valuable.  Many youth only come with one pair of shoes; often they don’t fit or are in poor shape. The shoe vouchers are used to help them build confidence and feel good about themselves.

A pair of "happy feet" shoes purchased with a Shoe Fund voucher
"(A young boy) had only the shoes he came with and they were ripped and poor fitting. He had not been in school this year and needed clothes and shoes to be able to fit in with his peers. He was very humbled when we told him we had shoe vouchers and he could get new shoes. He had never gone “shoe shopping” as he had his brothers hand-me-downs or he was given shoes from a second hand shop that someone picked out for him, Arthur said.
The experience and fun he had in going to a store to purchase new shoes had everyone smiling! He was excited about having his foot measured and trying shoes on. After we returned to the shelter, he put them on for everyone to see. He couldn’t believe that people would provide new shoes for him.  When he was leaving for school the next morning, he stated 'I am looking so good and people are going to see my shoes and know that I am cool. It is going to be a great day.'

That is the difference a program like these shoe vouchers makes in a child’s life. We very much value our partnership with CGNK."

Holly Hill Children's Services Director of Residential Treatment Katherine "Kat" Swope, M.Ed., LPCC-S had a similar testimonial about the youth that come to them with little to no belongings.

"Typically they will show up with whatever belongings that they might have in a small trash bag. Often times, the smallest thing to us is the most important thing to them. Never had I imagined as a child that I would go without underwear or shoes.

With the constant disarray of their lives, the teen girls in our care live day to day wondering what they have done to deserve the situations that they are in, the consequences that they feel often for things that have been beyond their control.

When you look at a pair of shoes, you think 'steps' and 'standing up.' We encourage our girls to take steps each and every day in a positive direction and to have the strength to stand back up on their own two feet to walk through whatever situation they have been put in."

With generous donations from CGNK's Shoe fund, she says they have assisted with their confidence in doing so by simply meeting a basic need that they so desired.

For more information about CGNK or to donate to the shoe fund and become a "sole mate," visit

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