Event will provide 2,000 pairs to needy children

SAN BENITO — Most people don’t think about not having shoes to put on in the morning.

Many people have plenty of different kinds they can wear each day — tennis shoes, work boots, sandals or high heels.

But, that’s not the way it is for everyone.

For some financially struggling families, shoes can be difficult to afford, especially for children who grow out of them before they are even worn out.

That’s why SOLE Search Shoe Drive is helping out Thursday in San Benito.

Valley Day and Night Clinic liaison and marketing specialist Elizabeth Charles said there were signs of children not being able to go to school because they didn’t have shoes.

It was the impetus to create SOLE Search more than a year ago.

In 2015, the organization handed out 1,000 pairs of shoes to children in Starr and Hidalgo counties, mainly because those two counties were listed high on the poorest counties in the country list.

“We want to give back to our communities,” she said.

This year, they are stepping it up and will hand out a total of 4,000 pairs of shoes, including 2,000 to those in need in Cameron County, which Charles said also has a significant amount of need.

On Thursday, Aug. 11, SOLE will provide shoes to kids identified in advance through one of the SOLE Search organizations, which include the local housing authorities and Boys & Girls clubs.

Charles said those organizations have been working to identify the underprivileged kids who will receive the shoes.

But that doesn’t mean others can’t come out and receive free haircuts, a sports physical voucher, play games, listen to some entertainment and enjoy time with each other.

She expects quite a turnout for the free opportunities for local families.

Last year, she said the event in Star/Hidalgo counties didn’t start until 4 p.m., yet the line in started to form about 8 a.m.

From March through the end of July, there were a total of 30 drop boxes around the three counties so people could donate shoes.

However, many of the shoes were purchased through donations and sponsors of SOLE Search Shoe Drive.

“We just want to make sure we reach as many people as we can,” Charles said.

She and other organizers are ready for the event.

“There were so many different personalities and people,” Charles said about last year’s gathering. “So many were grateful, some were crying.”

The SOLE Search mission is simple — “We believe the last thing a child in the Rio Grande Valley should worry about is a pair of shoes.”