- Associated Press - Sunday, March 30, 2014

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) - With numerous local children in need of shoes and fellow students wanting to help, a program at Yankton High School has been busy tying the two together.

Earlier this school year, students began the project - Tying It Together - by selling sweatshirts to raise money to purchase new shoes for younger students who can’t afford them. Those sales raised around $700 for the effort.

“It was great to see the Yankton High School students come together for this cause because they know that kids need shoes,” student Kate Schaa recently told the Yankton School Board. Schaa and math teacher Heather Olson helped spearhead the fundraising effort and attended a board meeting to present a report on the project.

“I’ve never been in the situation where I’ve had holes in my shoes,” Schaa said. “It’s great to see the high school students care about something so important.”

Olson said the idea for Tying It Together stemmed from an event last year in which the school district hosted a shoe giveaway in partnership with Samaritan’s Feet, an international organization that aims to provide shoes to the less fortunate.

The event was organized by Yankton native Taylor Specht, who solicited donations and worked with Samaritan’s Feet to purchase the footwear. More than 250 children were provided new shoes at the gathering at Yankton Middle School.

“Those kids got their brand new shoes and they were proud of them. They were racing back and forth and we were timing them,” Olson said. “It was one of the most amazing nights in my life. I bawled when I got home and told my husband about it.”

Olson said she wanted to continue the effort to provide shoes to students in need, so she spoke with the administration about ways to get the school and students involved. Last fall, Olson approached Schaa, a member of the student council, about possible fundraising opportunities.

To say Schaa was enthused would be an understatement, Olson said.

“I kid you not, I told her Monday or Tuesday, and by Friday, she had posters all over the school and we were raising money like that,” she said.

“I like to get things done,” Schaa added with a smile.

Along with its sweatshirts, the student council also has been selling lanyards. Donations are being accepted, as well.

Olson said that shoes will be distributed to students in the district on an individual basis for the time being, but she hopes that enough money will be raised to host group events similar to Samaritan’s Feet every year. She added that the project is currently targeted to elementary school students, but the goal is to expand it to middle school and high school students.

“We want to do this ongoing every year so that if kids need something, it’s there,” Olson said. “I’m really excited about it, and I hope this continues and grows even bigger.”


Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, https://www.yankton.net/

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