Back to School Shoes for Low Income Families

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Rack Room Shoes and Shoes That Fit, a non-profit organization dedicated to clothing underprivileged children for school, have partnered to help low-income children through a nationwide fund-raising campaign.

The human foot is one of the most complicated parts of the body with over 26 bones, laced with ligaments, muscles, blood vessels and nerves. Abnormal pressure with ill fitting shoes can easily cause abnormalities

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Johnnie trudges down the school hallway late for class again. With dirty, brown hair hanging below red, tired eyes, his shoulders falling forward, and his head hung low, he counts the tiles on the floor as he makes his way to the classroom.

Johnnie didn’t get dressed as quickly as his brothers today. One of four children who share three pairs of shoes, there is always one who is forced to wear just socks to school. Today, it’s Johnnie’s turn to wear socks and he knows that the day will be filled with the cruel taunting of classmates, who have coined the term “Johnnie Just Socks” for the days when he has no shoes to wear.

It’s a crime. The United States poverty rate has risen steadily every year since 2000, according to UNICEF in the 2005 report Child Poverty in Rich Countries. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 35.9 million people live below the poverty line in America and 23% (13 million) of these are children. Another fifteen million children are living in low-income families. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 40 percent of all children in the U.S. have parents who can’t work their way to economic stability.

Back to School Shoes for Low Income Families

Rack Room Shoes and Shoes That Fit, a non-profit organization dedicated to clothing underprivileged children for school, have partnered to help these children through a nationwide fund-raising campaign.

Consumers make a difference by purchasing a new type of key chain called The Finders Key Purse® which is a stylish, fumble-free way to store and find keys in purses and handbags. The key chains can be purchased in any of the 340 Rack Room Shoe locations ( or on eBay (Keyword: Key Chain Purse) and are available while supplies last. Women wonder how they lived without them!

The Rack Room Shoes campaign benefiting Shoes That Fit makes it easy to give back and to help children attend school with the appropriate footwear. There are thousands upon thousands of children who need assistance. These children put function first, not fashion. Warm, dry feet and shoes that fit properly, are their priority. Having good shoes allows a child to attend school regularly, focus on his or her studies and develop friendships rather than focus on their circumstances.

Meet Daniel. He is 11 years old. The only shoes Daniel has are his sister’s pink plastic sandals.
He is so embarrassed that he refuses to enter the classroom. Instead, he hides in the bushes near the school office where he feels safe until it’s time to go home. His teacher recognizes he has missed a lot of school and Daniel is discovered. Daniel explains why he was hiding in the bushes; he did not have shoes to wear to school. Through the Shoes That Fit program, the school nurse measures his feet for the proper shoe size and the next day Daniel receives a new pair of shoes from Shoes That Fit. Daniel is now doing much better in school, has developed friendships and achieves good grades.

Purdue University’s 2006 national research study with more than 3500 children (ages 10-16), enrolled in the National Youth Sports Program proved positive changes in attitudes regarding education, self-perception and good sportsmanship when they had shoes that fit properly.

Back to School Shoes for Low Income Families

In families living at and below the poverty line, income typically goes toward food and rent first. As a result, children living in poverty lack the proper shoes for school – even government subsidies are not enough to clothe the children after buying food and shelter requirements. In 1998, Urban Trends & Issues in Education study by Flaxman, Schwart, Weiler & Lahei revealed a strong relationship between poverty, low self-esteem and low achievement.

Meet Angelie. She is 8 years old. Angelie lives in an area of the country where it snows. Her parents cannot afford to purchase winter shoes for her. Angelie regularly walks through the snow in a pair of wet canvas shoes with damp cold feet. She misses school during the colder months because she gets sick. Angelie is not interested in trendy shoes; she needs shoes that will keep her warm and dry. Through the Shoes That Fit program at her school, funded by donations in the community similar to the one Rack Room Shoes is offering, she is able to receive new shoes. Without the program, her situation would not have changed.

Function, not fashion. Children’s feet grow approximately one inch every 6 months until puberty. Wearing small or ill fitting shoes negatively affects a child’s physical, social and psychological development, according to the Foot and Ankle Center in Seattle, Washington. “The human foot is one of the most complicated parts of the body with over 26 bones, laced with ligaments, muscles, blood vessels and nerves. Abnormal pressure with ill fitting shoes can easily cause abnormalities,” states Joshua Kaye, DPM Orthopedic Surgeon in Los Angeles, CA.

Rack Room Shoe’s Director of Marketing Jan Mauldin said, “Shoes That Fit has been helping school children for over fifteen years. We recognized there was an opportunity to team up with Shoes That Fit in order to strengthen their reach and to educate the public of this growing epidemic. We are excited about our new relationship. One of our goals at Rack Room Shoes is to enhance the self esteem of children in need through the simple gift of shoes, offering them a better chance to succeed in school and hopefully to create a brighter future.”

Tapping into local communities is part of what keeps Shoes That Fit connected with those in need. There are many outstanding youth who have distinguished themselves during hardship.

Back to School Shoes for Low Income Families

At 16, Juanetta works her way through situations in her life that most teenagers have never even considered. She has experienced life as a homeless person, living in shelters. She has braved the harsh reality of living in a neighborhood where drug dealing and shootings are an everyday occurrence. And, in a gang related incident, her oldest brother died when she was only 12 years old. Despite all of this, she has a winning attitude with drive and determination to be a positive influence for her sisters and brothers and hopes one day to become a nurse.

Additional stories of inspiration can be found at

Shoes That Fit is a non-profit organization headquartered in Claremont, CA. whose mission is to build the self-esteem of school children in need by providing them with new shoes and clothes. Volunteer programs are implemented in hundreds of schools across the country. One of the unique qualities of Shoes That Fit is their ability to connect and anyone can get involved and help in his or her own community. For more information, visit

Rack Room Shoes, headquartered in Charlotte, NC, is a member of the Deichmann Shoe Group of Germany and is the world’s largest privately owned shoe retailer. Rack Room Shoes owns and operates more than 340 stores in 24 states offering name brand and private label shoes for men, women and children at affordable prices. For additional information, visit the company’s website


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Barbara Colella

Cris Bremner
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