Americans Helping Americans in the News

5-year-old Lester Gomez insisted his father, Fabian Gomez, help him try on a pair of light-up sneakers. Photo by Magen McCrarey For Kicks: Head Start students receive new shoes through grant

May 14,2012
By Magen McCrarey Staff Writer
The Sentinel Echo

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Come-Unity Cooperative Care (CCC) untied a knot of financial tension for parents of Head Start children on Wednesday, when 23 of their students eagerly picked out new shoes at Shoe-Inn Family Footwear free of cost. Every child was awarded $25 through CCC’s cash grant by Americans Helping Americans (AHA), while Shoe-Inn employees fitted every one of their little feet.

“Shoes are a huge need,” said Kriston Jervis of Shoe-Inn Family Footwear. “First of all, kids grow so fast and outgrow their shoes. Shoes will not only get old but when they don’t fit, they’re uncomfortable.”

Jervis said shoes often get overlooked when parents think about supplies necessary for school.

For Chris and Amanda Sprinkles’ daughter, Shyanna, Jervis’ statement holds true. The last time she received a new pair of shoes was before school started in early August. Shyanna played hard in her sneakers at home and recess, and, eventually, the soles began to fall out. Chris Sprinkles had tried taping the shoes to make the worn out shoes last just a little longer, but they were beyond repair.

On occasion, Shyanna would window shop with her family for a new pair but they were always too expensive. Week after week, Shyanna complained her shoes were too tight.

“For her, it’s like getting a new toy,” he said. “We are very thankful she now has good shoes to wear to school.”

For the Sprinkles, who are both unemployed, purchasing shoes on a fixed income is not also a first priority, although it is always in the back of a parent’s mind.

Sarah Adams, mother of 5-year-old Maria Adams, commented she too is on a fixed income. Buying even generic brand shoes from a shopping center is just as expensive today as name brand, the single parent said.

“I’ve actually had shoes I’ve had to glue the soles back together just to get a few more months wear out of them,” Adams added.

Representatives with Americans Helping Americans visited the children that morning to see their grant monies at work. AHA is a program that derives out of Northern Virginia and grants funding to various organizations who support children.

“I like the idea of kids picking out their own shoes,” said Lynn Thomas, executive director of AHA. “It gives them more of a sense of ownership. Just having the opportunity to pick out something they like.”

William Perry, who accompanied his grandson Aiden to Shoe-Inn, said he remembers in his day growing up that organizations helped purchase eye-glasses and today children are receiving many more necessities such as shoes. Perry is currently battling cancer, and when his grandson brought a slip of paper home inviting him to pick out new shoes, he was appreciative.

“I’m glad there’s programs still like that,” said Charlotte Perry, Aiden’s grandmother.

For more about CCC, visit www.come-unity.org. To contact CCC, call 606-864-2351 or visit them at 755 South Dixie Street in London.

mmccrarey@sentinel-echo.com