The beginning of the school year means new classes, new friends, and, now, for 417 Dallas ISD students, new shoes. Shoes That Fit, a nonprofit based out of Claremont, California, handed out the new pairs of Nikes last Wednesday to students at Bayles Elementary School.
Because 99% of the students attending Bayles Elementary School are of lower socioeconomic means, they might otherwise have had trouble affording new shoes. Shoes that Fit ensured that each child at the school could confidently start the year with a new pair of kicks.
Shoes That Fit, founded in 1992, has provided over 2 million pairs of shoes to students all across the United States. By partnering with Nordstrom and other corporations, students are measured, fitted, and gifted with shoes that they will feel good about.
The organization was founded by a single mother working two jobs who was moved after hearing about a boy going to school with shoes so small that his toes were bunched together. Since then, hundreds of volunteers have joined the team. In Dallas alone, Shoes that Fit has serviced over 9,200 kids.
The Dallas Express spoke to Amy Fass-Taulbee, current CEO of Shoes That Fit, about the work that the organization is doing throughout Dallas and the rest of the country.
Fass-Taulbee was raised in Highland Park and spoke about witnessing poverty in some areas of Dallas growing up.
“Shoes are one of the most expensive items for low-income families to afford,” she stated. “It’s a really simple, concrete thing you can do to make a difference in a child’s life.”
“Clothing you can get used easily, shoes … you really can’t,” Fass-Taulbee explained.
Shoes That Fit has worked with podiatrists to examine the effect that old, worn shoes have on children’s feet. Even in younger patients, old or worn-out shoes can cause problems such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and other conditions, meaning a new pair of shoes with the correct fit and support for a child’s foot is important for their health over time.
Above all, Fass-Taulbee said one instance stands out to her as the moment she realized the difference that her nonprofit could make.
During a giveaway at one elementary school, which Fass-Taulbee referred to as a big “party,” she said one young girl seemed reserved.
“She was just sitting to the side holding her box, not participating,” Fass-Taulbee said.
When she went over to ask the girl what was wrong, the girl responded quietly, “I’ve never had a new box of anything before.”
From then on, Fass-Taulbee was driven to continue the organization and spread more joy to lower-income kids.
Fass-Taulbee says that Shoes That Fit would love to start a shoe bank in Dallas, where donations could be collected and distributed more efficiently.
“That way they wouldn’t have to wait for a one-time delivery … we could have shoes available for every child in need.”
For now, donations can be submitted through the organization’s website.