Logan Empowerment Action and Development (LEAD) Community Organization’s 3rd Annual Shoe Voucher program has been a success thus far. Since the program was founded in 2012, it has provided new shoes for more than 800 children throughout southern West Virginia including Logan, Mingo, and Wyoming counties. The official numbers for this year’s program aren’t in yet, but LEAD’s Administrative Assistant Beatrice Sias says they have given over 500 vouchers away already.
The program is made possible by donations from local citizens, businesses and organizations.
On Tues., August 5, Sias met up with a group of children and young adults from the Big Ugly Community Center to assist them with their shoe vouchers.
‘Step by Step is the name of the non-profit,” said Director Michael Tierney. “We sponsor the Big Ugly Community Center plus after school programs in Man and Charleston. We’re also involved with the Grow Appalachia program with LEAD.”
Step by Step is a community education nonprofit, and the aforementioned group from Big Ugly Community Center just finished Step by Step’s 19th Summer Program.
“We worked with our kids that were in the summer program and their families to apply for the shoe vouchers,” Tierney said. “Since many of them would have difficulty finding the transportation to get here, as a last piece of our summer program we brought our bus down and brought them here to shop.”
In addition to the children, Step by Step has 12 teen interns and three young adult interns that are recent graduates of the school. Tierney says they worked really hard as summer interns doing everything from helping out in classrooms to working on setting up a social media campaign to energy efficiency projects that make sure they kept the air conditioning down to doing recreation programs for the younger kids.
The summer program lasted six weeks, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
“We feed them breakfast and lunch every day,” Tierney said. “We have really fun, messy art programs, science programs… We had a terrific music camp that the Clay Center helped support where they learned song writing singing. We do that for six weeks to make sure that they are well fed every summer and they have lots of enrichment and fun.”
After all of their hard work, the kids now get to celebrate by purchasing some new shoes before school starts back.
“I love to see these kids be able to come in and get a pair of shoes,” said Sias. “This is what we work so hard for here at LEAD.”
13-year-old Caitlin Conley purchased two pairs of shoes and a pair of socks with her $30 voucher.
“I think this is awesome,” Conley said.
A common theme among the participants was this: they appreciated being rewarded for all of the hard work they put in at the summer camp with Step by Step.
Tierney says that the program is open to everybody. Although they only have the ability to do a bus run from Harts over to the Big Ugly Community Center, they welcome anybody who is able to make it.
The Shoe Voucher program is made possible by donations from local churches, businesses, organizations and individuals. Every $30 donation that was received provides a brand new pair of shoes for a child in need. Distributed vouchers are accepted at Shoe Show at Fountain Place Mall. For more information on how to participate in the shoe voucher program or how to make a donation, call 304-896-8551.