As a teacher with ties to both the Grove and Jay School Districts, Shaunda Davis knows it's important for a student to start the year on the right foot.
For the second time, in as many years, Davis is working with officials from Shoe Sensation in Grove, to help students from Grove, Jay and the surrounding area, start the year with a new pair of shoes.
Working with Kristen Mraz and Delinda Wass, Davis and others have gathered more than 100 names from students throughout Delaware County, who might not have a new pair of shoes when classes start back up next week.
The first names of each child, along with their age, shoe size and favorite color, have been placed on display at Shoe Sensation in Grove.
Organizers hope area residents will come in and either pick out a pair of shoes for a child - and leave the child a note on the back of their index card - or if shoes are too expensive, a pair of socks.
Individuals are also encouraged to purchase gift cards by Sunday, Aug. 12. Those funds will be used to purchase any remaining shoes needed, to fill all of the students wishes.
Last year's drive helped 27 students. This year, the number of children in need tripled.
"Back to school is harder for most families than Christmas," Davis said. "There's no Angel Tree or Gift Baskets. All of the purchases are solely up to the parents.
"If you have multiple kids, buying each one a pair of shoes alone can cost at least $200."
That figure, combined with other expenses such as a new outfit and school supplies, can add up, Davis said, adding for some it can mean at least half of a pay check or more.
"As a teacher, I knew the confidence it gave my students to have new shoes, a new backpack and new clothing at the start of school," Davis said. "We had one mom from last year tell us she though having new shoes changed her son's whole school year for the better."
Davis said two of the students given shoes last year cried as they opened their boxes - because neither had ever owned a new pair of shoes.
Others became excited, not only for the shoes, but the notes of encouragement people left for them on the index cards.
This year, Davis and Mraz plan to give each student a pair of shoes and at least one pair of socks.
Persons who purchase the shoes at Shoe Sensation will receive a coupon for 20 percent off one item to use with their next purchase.
Mraz said Shoe Sensation officials at the corporate level encourage local stores employees to find ways to reach out to help others within the community.
"They are always asking us to do community stuff," Mraz said. "This [shoe drive] is something people don't always think about."
Shoe Sensation is located at 1122 South Main, in Grove. Back to School hours include 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Sunday. Organizers hope to have all of the shoes adopted/purchased by Sunday, Aug. 12.
For more information, or to make a donation, persons interested may call 918-791-6132.