MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- For some students at Wildwood Elementary School, new pairs of shoes and socks are a luxury. Dayton, Ohio-based organization Shoes 4 the Shoeless provided shoes for about 300 Wildwood students free of charge.
"It is the biggest unmet need for a child in poverty," Shoes 4 the Shoeless executive director Kris Horlacher said.
The organization helps between 1,500 and 2,000 children a month.
"Two to three times a week, we are doing what you see now," Horlacher said. "We're in a school."
More than half the student body at Wildwood received new shoes.
"We have students who come to school wearing Mom or Dad shoes," Wildwood Elementary School principal Keri Hensley said.
Horlacher said they see the impact of kids going without shoes that fit.
"Seeing the damaged feet that we see all the time," she said. "Seeing the curled under toes, the toes that have grown on top of each other."
Community and business volunteers measure the students' feet, ask the kids their favorite color and come back with shoes to try on.
"They're just standing there like, ‘Look at my shoes.'" Hensley said. "There's a lot of students who this may be their first new pair of shoes they've had."
Shoes 4 the Shoeless is providing shoes for all the Middletown elementary schools this year. They get requests from all over the country.
"I don't think there's very many states in the United States that haven't reached out to us and said ‘Can you come to Florida?'" Horlacher said. "‘Can you come to Louisiana?' Even Canada."
Shoes for 4 the Shoeless saw a need and started the charity to help those who were going without.
"If you need food, a coat, dental care, vision screening, there's generally a resource in your community for that," Horlacher said. "There was no resources for shoes and socks."
Principal Hensley said the shoes are coming at the right time: Just as the temperature is dropping.
Shoes 4 the Shoeless accepts donations year-round.