“Thank you because my parents didn’t have money to buy more shoes.”
“I only had one pair before.”
These were just a few of the notes Samantha Ford, a Saugus Union School District Physical Education Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), received Wednesday from a classroom of grateful students at Cedarcreek Elementary School.
The handwritten notes and colored cards were to thank Ford for hosting a shoe drive at the elementary school, all in the hopes of outfitting each student in Transition Kindergarten (TK) to sixth grade with a new pair of athletic shoes so they can exercise and play safely.
“We want to thank you for giving us and our class shoes,” said Lizette Macedonio, 8, who was sporting a new pair of pink and purple athletic shoes.
Ford’s efforts began last week when she noticed a group of six students—five girls and one boy—wearing worn-out boots and incorrectly-sized shoes during her PE class.
“I said to them ‘Make sure you have athletic shoes for when I come back Friday,’” Ford said. “The boy said to me ‘These are the only shoes I have.’”
In the hopes of finding the student athletic shoes, Ford posted the story on Facebook. The next day, one of Ford’s friends brought in two pairs of shoes and socks for the boy to pick his favorite ones.
“He was super happy and super grateful,” Ford said. “He played soccer all day and he had not done that for months.”
Soon after, word spread of Ford’s plea for her student as friends, community members, teachers, district staff, former students and even professional athletes reached out to provide shoes for the entire school.
“More people wanted to help… and then it snowballed into a giant thing,” Ford said. “The real outpouring of love is amazing. People want to help others.”
What began as a small attempt to help one child in need has turned into a school-wide, and possibly district-wide, effort to put new, well-fitted athletic shoes on all of Cedarcreek’s students’ feet.
To keep track of the donations, Ford has a system where she lines up the shoes based on gender and shoe size. She also has a list of shoe sizes for each classroom to guarantee that the athletic shoes available match with the students’ needs.
She then calls groups of students or entire classrooms into her office to have them try on and leave with new shoes.
“I feel like I got so lucky that so many people grabbed onto this and wanted to help,” Ford said.
The shoe drive continues until Friday, before the students go on winter break. Ford is accepting athletic shoe donations in all sizes, but said the real need is in toddlers’ size 10 to adult size 9. Donations can be dropped off at Cedarcreek Elementary in Canyon Country.
“My goal is to get kids up and moving and they need good shoes to do that,” Ford said.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_