June 25th, 2024

Community steps up to make Shoes for Kids initiative a success


By Dale Woodard on August 17, 2021.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard - Lauren Paskall of the The Watch, Zenia Portes of the Royal Bank and Austen Trotter, prepare donated shoes at the Connecting Our Community Lethbridge's Shoes For Kids YQL initiative Saturday morning at Lethbridge College.

It was a shoe-in Saturday afternoon at Lethbridge College.
Or in this case, shoes. And many pairs of them.
Connecting Our Community Lethbridge’s Shoes for Kids YQL – with support from the Lethbridge Police Service, Piikani RCMP detachment, Blood Tribe Police and Lethbridge Fire Department Charities Association – took place Saturday at the college with the goal of ensuring children in Lethbridge and surrounding Indigenous communities have brand-new shoes and school supplies for the 2021/22 school year.
The Shoes for Kids YQL initiative, which was announced at the end of June, will supply shoes to four Lethbridge schools from both school districts as well as students in the Piikani and Kainai nation.
With about an hour to go in the Shoes for Kids YQL drive, which ran from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., donors were still pulling up to drop off shoes as well as financial donations.
“Right now we’re sitting at about 400 shoes that have been donated today,” said Mallory Kristjanson of Connecting our Community Lethbridge and one of the event coordinators for Shoes For Kids YQL. “We have sent 60 (pairs) home with the Piikani RCMP and another 60 with the Blood Tribe Police Service to be able to distribute through our Indigenous communities.”
On Saturday, one car pulled up with 25 pairs of shoes to donate.
“We had some toddler-size (shoes) dropped off, too. So that’s huge,” said√ā¬†Kristjanson. “This initiative would not have taken off without the support of law enforcement and without the support of the community, whether it’s a business or a financial donator, but also the incredible volunteer chapters in our community that have stepped up. This is what community is.”
The Shoes for Kids YQL drive will ensure two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school in Lethbridge are going to be given an ample amount of shoes, said Kristjanson.
“We know there are students, one in five kids locally are living in poverty, and we want to ensure and assist these kids to walk in with brand new shoes that first day of school.”
Last month, Shoes for Kids YQL joined forces with MyCityCare and the Ready Set Go program and through roughly $13,000 raised from local donors, Shoes for Kids YQL has donated $6,000 to MyCityCare to buy shoes to go into their backpacks.
“As a single mother myself, I understand how hard finances can be,” said Kristjanson. “So what we realized immediately was that if there were parents and kinship providers already registered with MyCityCare in need of backpacks and school supplies, we thought immediately that they could be in need of shoes as well. So that’s where we came in with a $6,000 donation for MyCityCare, to purchase brand new shoes for kids in collaboration with their Ready Set Go initiative.”
On hand Saturday and helping members of the LPS gather the boxes of shoes was Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh.
“It’s been great,” said Mehdizadeh. “This is no different than the last initiative we had before Christmas when we had the check stop. The generosity of the community is amazing and I can’t speak enough about that. We have great citizens and more importantly, caring citizens. They’re not just looking after their own well-being, they’re looking after the well-being of their fellow citizens. I’m honoured to be a citizen in this city where my fellow citizens are doing these things which are worthwhile for the community.”
Kristjanson said Shoes for Kids YQL will become an annual event.
“We know we are going to keep going with it and we know our community loves to give back. It just shows what can happen when we unite as a community.”

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