Five years ago, founder of Helping Hands’ Shoe Fest Anita Plantz, 81, and her daughter Theresa Bugelholl, 54, raised money to buy shoes for children who needed to start their new school year off on the right foot.
This year, their shoe drive has grown to include 500 pairs of shoes donated to their church and purchased from Samaritan’s Feet.
Helping Hands of St. Louis is hosting its annual Shoe Fest 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday at 443 6th St., where 50 volunteers will wash children’s feet and fit them with new socks and shoes.
“I know how difficult it is to be able to afford new shoes and even when I was growing up, I didn’t get new shoes and new clothes,” Director of Helping Hands of St. Louis Sue Shrewsbery said. “I’d go to school and all my friends had new shoes ... and I just felt embarrassed.”
Volunteers of Helping Hands raised $1,700 along with First Baptist Church in Ottawa, Ill., which raised $4,000 to make the Shoe Fest possible this year. The socks were donated by Hannah’s Socks, a Perrysburg nonprofit that serves individuals affected by homelessness, poverty, and domestic abuse.
While the event is focused on providing shoes to East Toledo families, no child will be turned away if their size is available. Shoe sizes run from toddler size 10 through youth size 6.
“I’m excited to see the kids with their new shoes,” Ms. Plantz said. “I’ve seen some of them come out dancing.”
She has been a part of Helping Hands since it first opened seven years ago. Ms. Plantz volunteers in the children’s clothing section where she organizes items that are donated to the church.
In addition to clothing, the church also provides homeware and bedding for people in need. Helping Hands also has an outreach center and a soup kitchen that serves at least 60,000 meals every year.
During the Shoe Fest, the clothing center will host a free sidewalk clothing give-away. Children can also get their faces painted and play games and activities as they wait their turn.
Clothing Center Coordinator Cynthia Villarreal said the event has taken off since it first started.
“Anita and her daughter are the backbone of the whole thing,” she said. “Just to be able to give the kids the shoes, it’s terrific.”
Toledo Zoo Teens is the largest volunteer group for this year’s event. Buckeye Health, Herzing University, and friends of Helping Hands donated school supplies and drawstring bags.
“We can always use more donations, school supplies, new shoes, and socks,” Mrs. Shrewsbery said. “We will take anything that helps kids start [their] new school year.”
She added, they’re looking for bedding, towels, and blankets with winter coming up.
For more information on Helping Hands, visit catholiccharitiesnwo.org/helping-hands-of-st-louis/ or contact Mrs. Shrewsbery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.