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Project matches local school kids with shoes

  • Mackenzie Wilson helped match kids up with donated shoes last year at the annual Back to School Bash at Central Park in Charles City. (Press file photo)

  • Mackenzie Wilson

  • Mackenzie Wilson helped match kids up with donated shoes last year at the annual Back to School Bash at Central Park in Charles City. (Press file photo)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

If you’re a student in Charles City, Mackenzie Wilson wants to hook you up with a new pair of shoes.

For the second year, Wilson, a recent CCHS graduate, is in charge of the Back to School Shoe Drive. Although it has taken up a lot of her time this summer, she’s happy to be involved with it.

“It has been the most rewarding project I have been a part of,” Wilson said. “The effect of this event has on our community has been profound, and I am so lucky to be at the forefront of it all.”

Wilson and a team of Valero volunteers helped match kids up with donated shoes last year at the annual Back to School Bash at Central Park in Charles City. She took on organizing the annual shoe drive after the United Way Foundation announced last year that it couldn’t. She had helped out in past years.

“It’s the first time I have taken over something like this,” Wilson said last year. “It makes it all worth it, because you know that it’s really helping people.”

Wilson said that sending kids to school with new athletic shoes can improve their self-esteem and increase their physical activity, leading to an overall better school experience.

“The smallest amount can make a huge difference in not only a child’s life, but in our community as a whole,” Wilson said.

The seventh annual Back to School Bash will be in August. Volunteers traditionally offer backpacks full of free school supplies, based off of the Charles City Community School District’s supply list.

School supply lists for different elementary and middle school grades are now available on the Charles City School District’s website at charlescityschools.org. School registration information packets for the 2018-19 school year are also being sent out this week.

Boxes for shoes are set out at businesses and other sites throughout the community, including such places as Valero, the Immaculate Conception Church, the Chamber of Commerce, Zoetis, TLC, the YMCA, First Citizens Bank, First Security Bank, CUSB, the Charles City Public Library, the Floyd County Medical Center and St. John’s Lutheran Church. Individuals can also make a cash donation — checks should be payable to “Charles City Community Fund” and can be mailed to 407 5th Ave., Charles City.

Last year, Wilson collected more than 150 pairs of shoes through donation boxes as well as through purchases from cash donations. The drive sent 120 kids home with athletic shoes for the school year.

“We had shoes for almost every child, but I would like to be able to say we didn’t turn anyone down,” she said. “It’s hard to guess the sizes needed until the day arrives.”

Wilson is hoping that this year, every single child who comes through the line will go home with new shoes.

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