Local kids get free shoes at back-to-school event

Posted at 10:10 PM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 23:30:09-04

RACINE -- For a lot of families, "back to school" means an extra financial burden. There are a lot of supplies to get, and things to prepare for.

On the eve of the first day for Racine public schools, hundreds of families got some much needed help.

The new Knapp Elementary School was just built. It's Racine's first "community school" - meaning it will provide assistance programs, and work closely with the surrounding neighborhood. Its back-to-school resource fair Wednesday night was a perfect example of that.

Every child who showed up - regardless if they attend Knapp Elementary or not - got fitted for a new pair of shoes. SKECHERS and Rogan's Shoes donated more than 550 pairs. Then the kids got to put their signature touch on them.

Keyara decorated her shoes by writing mom on one, and dad on the other.

"So I can remember them every time I'm at school," she says.

Keyara starts second grade Thursday. Her little sister, Olivia, begins kindergarten. Their mom, Menasha Coleman, is thankful for the help.

"I am just so grateful," says Menasha Coleman. "It's hard out here, it really is. I mean you go to work. You try to do everything the right way for your family, and better prepare them for their lives coming up. The need out here is huge, whether people like to admit it or not."

In addition to shoes and school supplies, families were able to get a lot of other community resources.

"They got a dentist office here offering to make appointments for parents and students, who don't have insurance" says Samantha Newman.

Newman, a single mom to 7-year-old Neil, has a clear goal for him.

"I just want the best education possible for him, you know," she says. "Like all parents."

And all parents here can agree, this is a strong start.

"Seeing a regular public school do stuff like this in the community is really nice," Newman says.

"They've made it that much more easy for us just to get by, and make another day possible," Coleman adds.

The United Way is a partner in Knapp Elementary School. The intent of this community school is to create stronger connections between schools, neighborhoods, and resources. There will be more events like this throughout the year.