Ten days after tragedy put their school in the news, students at Oakwood Terrace Elementary jumped into their spring break a little early Friday when each got a new pair of shoes and, even better, a chance to decorate them with their personal touch.
The 634 students spent part of their Friday morning in the gym getting outfitted for their new pairs of Bobs from Skechers as the footwear maker partnered with Belk Inc. department stores to give back to the community. Northeast Tarrant charity 6 Stones and the nonprofit KIDS/Fashion Delivers also pitched in.
Oakwood Terrace was briefly locked down the afternoon of March 1 as Euless police responded to a call in nearby J.A. Carr Park. Officer David Hofer was killed by a gunman, who was fatally shot by other officers.
Hurst-Euless-Bedford School Superintendent Steve Chapman said the shoe donation was a great way for the students — about 80 percent of whom qualify for the federal lunch program —to start their spring break.
“One of the things that is really neat about selecting this campus is that a lot of these families don’t have a lot of discretionary income. It’s great seeing the smiles and the kids having a good time,” Chapman said.
Chapman said he is grateful for the generosity and support from the community. “They fill the gap for us,” he said.
Julie Matlock, manager of the newly opened Belk store, said Belk likes to form partnerships with local groups to give back to the community.
“Seeing every child with a pair of shoes, it makes a difference. It’s so exciting to see smiles on the kids’ faces,” she said.
Matlock said over 800 pairs of shoes were donated.
While some children raced around in scooters for their physical education class, others stood on sizing mats so that volunteers could tell which shoe size they needed. The Bobs are black and resemble Crocs.
Then the fun began as students went to long tables filled with paint markers in colors including pink, orange, green, yellow and brown.
First-grader Gabriel Vasquez proudly showed off his Bobs after he drew pictures of himself and his brother along with grass and the sun on each shoe.
Kindergartner Mele Leka said she was excited about wearing her new shoes. She drew hearts, smiley faces and flowers.
Tara O’Shields, who works at 6 Stones, helped children who came to the decorating station choose colors and encouraged them to start decorating their shoes.
“This is an awesome event. The kids are having a great time, and it’s neat to see all of the different designs,” she said.
- Since 2011, the Bobs from Skechers program has donated more than 13 million pairs of shoes to children in need. Skechers works with Head Start programs, homeless shelters and disaster relief.
- Last year, Belk employees, customers and vendors donated more than $19 million to communities the company serves. Donations focus on education, breast cancer awareness and strengthening communities.
Sources: Skechers, Belk