You may not be able to walk a mile in their shoes but you could provide kids in Aldergrove with some decent pairs of running shoes.
Craig Brennan, a senior vice president of Aldergrove Soccer Club, was taken aback earlier this year by the numbers of Aldergrove school children who didn’t have gym shoes for their PE strip.
“We put a soccer program in all the elementary schools in the area, seven to be exact,” said Brennan.
“As I went to follow up and see the program in action, I noticed a large number of the kids were playing soccer in winter boots. Upon speaking with the instructors and further conversations with school administrators, I was informed that these families had to make a choice: warm boots for winter or sneakers for school. Some families have a hard time making ends meet.
“My first thought when I saw this was, this is Canada, not a third world country, and this is not right.”
Brennan went back to his office at Aldergrove’s Boston Pizza and sent out emails to the soccer club executive. He not only enlisted the club’s support for a free running shoe program but also the support of the Aldergrove Business Association (ABA).
“I went to an ABA meeting, did a presentation for them and wow, the support and encouragement I received from the group was overwhelming. I was nearly brought to tears,” said Brennan.
Since that night, six weeks ago, Kitchen Korners has built, at no charge, 10 boxes for shoe drop locations.
Local businesses — Boston Pizza Aldergrove, A1 Glass, Diamond Bar Equipment, Greater Vancouver Zoo, EV Logistics, Kates Korner Scrapbooking Store, Prudential Power and Aldergrove Credit Union — will have these boxes on their premises for the public to drop off good new or used running shoes.
“A very special thanks goes to Brock Chapman from A1 Glass and Bruce Heslop from Diamond Bar Equipment, as they have been instrumental in getting this program rolling,” said Brennan.
“In addition, I have had pledges of monetary donations and a local resident, Bill Reid has donated a valuable piece of computer equipment to be auctioned off and raise money for the program. I will be approaching storage companies to donate a locker as a place where we can sort through all the shoes every weekend, get them cleaned, and ready for distribution.
“Also, the program has been growing so much, so fast, that I plan on hiring some youth from the community to work on weekends assisting me at the locker. And just by word of mouth, this program has spread into other communities as far away as Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.”
As for distributing the shoes, Brennan has two plans of action. The first is the use of the drop locations, where people who need the shoes can just come and grab a pair, no questions asked.
However, the main source of distribution will be through the elementary schools. The administrators of the schools know their students and families, therefore Brennan has asked them to email the following information: male or female and what size shoes?
“I will then put them together, drop off at school, and walk away. The only hurdle we face with this is pride but we have no intentions of ever knowing who got the shoes, where they went or names of people,” said Brennan.
“We can go on, not only knowing the shoes were put to good use, but that we can look in the mirror and at each other and know that the community of Aldergrove is one big family.”