Samaritan's Feet: Shoe giveaway reaches more than 250 in need
By Samantha Jones
For the sixth year, Eureka Springs Rotary Club partnered with Samaritan's Feet to give away more than 250 shoes to local children in need.
Rotarian Cathy Handley said families were lined up outside Eureka Springs High School at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, even though the giveaway didn't begin until 2 p.m. Handley said Rotary gave away more than 200 pairs of shoes at the event and put in orders for 50 more pairs. The additional 50 pairs of shoes will be distributed in about a week, Handley said.
"It was a great turnout," Handley said. "We had a lot of volunteers and a lot of really big families this year. Most of them had five-plus children. I was just in shock at how many people came out."
There were several children at the event with their foster parents, Handley said. She remembered interacting with one such family, saying it touched her heart.
"The kids ranged in age from fourth grade to eighth grade in that family," Handley said, "and none of them had ever had new shoes. That was pretty cool."
Handley added, "It's very touching to see the look on someone's face who's never had a new pair of shoes before. It's humbling."
She thanked all the volunteers, saying she's especially grateful for the help of Eureka Springs High School Rotary Interact students and the entire Krewe of Krazo.
"We really appreciated them coming forth. There were probably eight or nine of them," Handley said. "The rest were all Rotarians. I'd say we had close to 20 volunteers, which made it go really smoothly."
Also at the event, Handley said, Holiday Island Rotary Club representatives signed up 16 students for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. The program provides free age-appropriate books for children until they begin school. Handley said she's grateful to the Eureka Springs School District and Superintendent Bryan Pruitt for supporting both Rotary clubs.
"Of course, we want to thank Mr. Pruitt and his staff," Handley said. "They were amazing. They were there early and helped us get everything set up."
If you'd like to help with the shoe giveaway next year, Handley said, sign up for Rotary's annual Victorian Classic. Proceeds from the Victorian Classic help purchase shoes for the giveaway, she said.
"We did have some people from local churches just give us money toward shoes," Handley said. "If somebody ever wants to donate money just for Samaritan's Feet, they can do that as well. Just specify that's what it's for."
Rotary's next big event is Oktoberfest, slated for Saturday, Oct. 19 in downtown Eureka Springs. In the meantime, Handley said, everyone is welcome at Rotary's regular meeting at noon on Thursdays in the Crescent Hotel's dining room.
"Just give us a call," Handley said.