Shoes for Kids YQL partners with Lethbridge Family Services

·3 min read

Shoes for Kids YQL Foundation is partnering with Lethbridge Family Services for its second annual Shoe Drive on Aug. 27, gathering brand new shoes for children across southern Alberta so they can start their school year off on the right foot.

“We are working with the school boards as well as social services within the schools, identifying the children that are in need and contacting us. We don’t ask for personal information. They tell us ‘A child in grade 4, size 13 shoe, for a boy.’ And we get the shoes. We do deliveries to the schools within the city, and we also have pickup locations for outlying areas for families to come and pick up,” said Monica Cove, board president of Shoes for Kids YQL Foundation.

This year the drive will be held at the Enmax Centre parking lot where those looking to donate can swing by. Early donations will be accepted at Copy Express, Freddy’s Paint, Wear ‘M’ Out Inc., Naturistas, Lethbridge Boxing Club, The Medicine Shoppe, and Lethbridge Police Services. Cash donations are also being accepted at any RBC branch in Lethbridge. The foundation is available for questions regarding donations at shoes4kidsyql@gmail.com.

Last year during its inaugural run the drive raised more than $16,000 along with gathering over 500 running shoes for kids in Lethbridge as well as the Kainai and Piikani First Nations. The foundation will be looking to surpass 750 shoes this year along with expanding their area thanks to the partnership with Family Services.

“We were looking to grow and reach more children within the community. So we reached out to Lethbridge Family Services, asking them to help us reach those children within the community. They of course have the access to the public schools, as well as the immigrant children coming in. So that was a win-win service for both of us,” said Cove.

“We sit down, go over the list of kids that have recently arrived, or have arrived in the past years, identifying people who really need shoes to go back to school especially in the winter. Because kids are not used to the cold and walking to school during icy cold winters makes it really difficult. So, we identify all the things that might benefit, or could benefit, kids from having new shoes. We will generate a list and then we work with YQL to refer those clients and get them shoes,” said Vic Rizal, manager of youth services in Immigrant Services at Lethbridge Family Services.

The foundation is a non-profit created in 2021 with a goal of serving southwest Alberta and surrounding Indigenous communities, providing families and children in need with help and taking the stress out of getting new shoes for children retuning to school when resources are not economically affordable. They believe every child deserves to go back to school with a brand-new pair of shoes to help boost confidence while enhancing self-esteem.

“Our experience shows that new shoes allow children to go to school with dignity and joy. Preparing them to learn, play, and thrive. New shoes can change a child’s life with attendance, self-esteem, and behaviour. Improved physical activity increases and of course the smiles return because they are just like the rest of the kids going back to school,” said Cove.

“It’s so important, especially for kids, to have new shoes or even the proper gear to go to school. It really helps them make new friends, participate in sports, and also helps them with empowerment,” added Rizal.

Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald