XENIA, Ohio (WDTN) — The holidays are a time for giving, and two groups are making sure children have what they need for their feet to stay warm this winter.
“What we do never gets old,” says Jonathan Hauge, Director of Engagement for Shoes 4 the Shoeless. “To see joy on kids’ faces and see them light up when they receive something that they don’t necessarily have that they needed — It is tough to beat.”
Hosted by FOP Lodge 37 in Xenia with help from Shoes 4 the Shoeless, children including third grader Tensley Lingus got new pairs of kicks Wednesday.
“I got picked to get shoes, socks, a stuffed animal and hat,” exclaims Lingus.
The tradition started in 1929 in Greene County when some Xenia officers bought shoes for kids who needed them.
“During the great Depression they weren’t able to get them. So they pooled the money and bought them some shoes,” says Joe Thorne, President of FOP Lodge 37. “In 1936 we formed our Greene County FOP Lodge and started our annual program from then on.”
This year, they fitted more than 100 kids with new shoes.
“We have a marching band, and as you can hear a choir going, and their faces are just lighting up. It’s an amazing experience for them,” says Thorne.
“They’re also going to get a stuffed animal from Synchrony Financial. We also have hand-made knitted hats,” states Hauge.
The giveaway ties in with the FOP’s mission of giving back.
“We’re able to actually fill some of that void and give them something that they need,” says Thorne.
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