The best way to start a child’s school year off right? With shoes that fit.
At least that’s the belief of The First Day Shoe Fund, a Kalamazoo-based nonprofit that provides new athletic shoes to K-5 students in Kalamazoo and Comstock Public Schools. Not only do new athletic shoes foster self-esteem in students, thereby improving their school performance, but these shoes also allow students to participate in healthy activities both in and out of school, their website explains.
With several local businesses hosting back-to-school drives throughout the month of August, it’s easy to be reminded of the typical student needs like pencils, markers, paper, folders and backpacks around every corner. And while these drives are certainly generous and helpful to their recipients, we knew we wanted to do something a little different when planning the credit union’s annual Back-To-School drive.
The idea? Choose a local, student-centric organization to receive a $1,500 donation based on a goal of 1,500 likes, shares, retweets and favorites of the message on Facebook and Twitter.
The feedback was positive and heartwarming. In just two weeks, the 1,500 online goal was exceeded with the majority of the action taking place on Facebook. The post received 1,022 likes, with 61% of those likes resulting from being shared on other’s walls. The post was also shared 528 times, going as far as Wisconsin and Idaho.
“Great cause!” wrote Woodward Elementary teacher Laura Mapes. “This year I got to watch my kids in my classroom get their shoes and they were all so excited!”
“I think it just shows that if you give people an opportunity to easily support an awesome local cause, they’ll do it,” reflects Jamie Woodburn, ECCU’s social media specialist. “It takes one second to like and share a post…it can’t get much easier than that. It really exemplifies the ‘people helping people’ credit union philosophy.”
Stretching the dollars
Just how far will $1,500 go when it comes to purchasing new shoes for children? Farther than you’d imagine, says Heather Haigh, The First Day Shoe Fund’s Executive Director. They work with several different companies that provide shoes at a discounted rate. “This generous donation will help us buy about 125 pairs of shoes.”
Another way they stretch that dollar? “I have an amazing team of volunteers who work really hard to scour stores for the best deals and are always finding coupons or discount codes to apply,” Heather marveled.
The Down-Low on Donations
If you’d like to support The First Day Shoe Fund, here are three ways to donate:
- Donate Time. Volunteers are always needed for sorting shoes, especially during weekdays, and at distribution events. If you’d like to volunteer, contact Heather.
- Donate Money. Donations to First Day Shoe Fund can be made online via PayPal, or you can send a check or money order through the mail.
- Donate New Shoes. Want to buy a pair or two of new shoes to donate? Keep in mind: “Half sizes are hard to find, but are the most in demand,” Heather shared. “Also, larger shoe sizes are needed as we have recently expanded our donations to fourth and fifth graders.” Contact Heather and she’ll even arrange to pick them up!