Top collectors of the "Let Them Walk in Our Shoes," promotion by Blue Ridge Communications TV-13 were for the third year in a row students from Ss. Peter and Paul School, Lehighton.
Last year the school collected 333 pairs or 3.74 pairs of shoes per student, but this year the students pushed to 605 pairs of shoes for a shoe ratio of 7.75 pairs per student winning them their third Dell computer, plus an ice cream party, all donated by PenTeleData. The school has 78 students.
The children enjoyed when their visitors, Kim Bell, Marie Johns and Jillian Kuntzman of Blue Ridge Communication TV-13; Retired Colonel George Duell, Jr., Staff Sgt. Paul Wortmann and Staff Sgt. Chuck Fransisco stopped by to make the announcement and to congratulate them. Bell also presented the school with TV-13 promotional items.
Bell also promised the students that if they win again next year, they will get an another computer, ice cream party and a pizza party.
"We sent 3,500 pairs of shoes to Command Sgt. Major Dan Dailey, 4th Infantry Division, stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado," said Johns.
Dailey is a native of Palmerton and attended a Catholic school in Palmerton. He is currently serving in Iraq.
"He has already received the shoe donations we sent," said Johns. "The plan is that the shoes will be disbursed in Iraq. We were thrilled to hear that the Army Public Affairs office is cooperating with us this year," said Johns. "They are planning to send a videographer along when they make distribution. So we will have some still pictures and video from Iraq in a DVD video from Iraq next year to help with our promotion."
Johns said that TV-13 sent copies of their newscasts and hopes to see some of them incorporated in the video.
"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 Panther Valley Jr. ROTC and soldiers at the Lehighton Armory who helped pick up the shoes.
"We went from the Delaware Gap to Lehigh Township picking up shoes over three days," she said. "It was cool picking up shoes with the soldiers."
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 19 schools participated and the number of shoes more than doubled. Shoes are collected in Northampton, Pike, Monroe, Carbon and Lehigh counties. Some shoes are also brought to the television station by viewers.
"This year we asked groups about raising money for shipping costs," she said. "We invited the schools to send up information about the interesting way they were raising the funds," she said. "Ss. Peter and Paul held a patriotic dress down day and bake sale and raised over $200."
Also a "Above and Beyond" Pa. Army National Guard plaque was presented to the school by Duell, to thank the school for their continued outstanding service in the "Let Them Walk in Our Shoes" campaign.
Shoes not sent to Iraq will be distributed locally to local outlets where they shoes will be given to children at no cost.