The Modesto Gospel Mission is asking for donations of new sneakers and similar footwear for its annual back-to-school event Saturday, July 28, which it expects will draw 1,000 to 1,200 children and their families.
Executive Director Jason Conway said this will be the third year the mission has given shoes to children and the first year it will not be giving out backpacks. He said the need for shoes that kids can wear in the classroom and on the playground is greater than the need for backpacks.
The mission has worked with Big Valley Grace Community Church on gathering the shoes, but donations are down this year. The mission needs shoes for kids from kindergarten through 12th grade, but the biggest need is for children in elementary school.
“Watching these kids have a new pair of shoes, it’s so important to see that smile on these kids’ faces,” Conway said. “It’s worth the effort.”
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He said about 250 pairs of shoes have been collected, but the mission needs about 1,000 pairs. The mission expects at least 600 to 700 children to attend the event, which features games and fun for the children as well as free haircuts. The mission also serves a lunch of hot dogs, chips and sodas to the children and their families.
Conway said the mission will put any remaining shoes to good use. Donations can be dropped off anytime at the mission, 1400 Yosemite Blvd. The back-to-school event is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children and their families can start lining up as early as 6 a.m.