Top collectors of the "Let Them Walk in Our Shoes," promotion by Blue Ridge Communications TV-13 were for the second year in a row students from Ss. Peter and Paul School, Lehighton.
Last year the school collected 230 pairs or 2.47 pairs of shoes per student, but this year the students pushed to 333 pairs of shoes for a shoe ratio of 3.74 pairs per student winning them a Dell computer, plus an ice cream party, all donated by PenTeleData.
The children enjoyed when their visitors, Kim Bell, Marie Johns and Jillian Kuntzman of Blue Ridge Communication TV-13; George Duell, ambassador for American Freedom Team Salute Program; Bill Campbell, executive director of Employee Support of the National Guard and Reserve; and Sgt. 1st Class Paul Shollenberger came to congratulate them and present their school with certificates of appreciation and to those who also helped with the project.
"A sincere thank you to everyone who participated in our "Let Them Walk in Our Shoes," drive," said Johns. "There was an overwhelming response and we just finished boxing 5,600 pairs of shoes for shipment to Iraq and Arizona." Johns said that some of the shoes will also remain locally to benefit children in need.
"We will be sending shoes to an Army Reserve unit out of Lancaster currently serving in the Port of Kuwait," added Johns. " The Port of Kuwait is the gateway for all supplies being sent to our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Jordan. The soldiers will direct our donations to troops in very remote areas of those countries for distribution to children living there."
Johns added that shoes will also be sent to U.S. children in need living on or near an Apache Indian reservation in Arizona, where about 80 percent of the people living there live below the poverty level.
Locally the shoes will be taken to the Pleasant Valley Ecumenical Network, Bushkill Outreach, the Children's Clothing Room organized by Church Women United at the First Presbyterian Church in Stroudsburg, Bethany Congregational Church, Lehighton; and First Baptist Church, Lansford. She added that they are still looking for more local groups who would benefit from the donations.
"It never ceases to amaze me how school children will get behind a project to help those in need," said Johns. She said it was especially great to be working with the Lehighton National Guard who helped pack the 5,600 pairs of shoes.
She said that the first year, the promotion brought in 604 pairs of shoes from viewers. In the second year, 10 schools out of 54 schools in the Blue Ridge Communications TV-13 area participated and brought in 2,500 pairs of shoes.
This third year, the number of schools doubled and now 20 schools participated and the number of shoes more than doubled.
As part of the school assembly, Bell presented a certificate of appreciation to Sherry Ambrose, principal of the school and she also gave her enough certificates to give to each one of the 90 students who participated in the promotion.
Also recognized was Kuntzman for helping organize the project at the TV studio; Duell for helping provide addresses where to send the shoes and Shollenberger for having the Guard unit pack the shoes.
Bell said the students also collected hats, gloves and school supplies.
Campbell also presented awards to the school, Kuntzman and TV-13 thanking them for their meritorious leadership and initiative in support of the men and women who serve America in the National Guard and Reserve.