Back to school shopping is an exciting annual ritual for kids of all grades – filling supply lists, getting new backpacks, clothes and shoes. However, many area children are lucky if they can even afford the pencils and paper they need, much less anything extra. According to national census data, one in four people living in the city of St. Louis are living below the national poverty line, which is nearly 10 percentage points higher than the national average (24.9 percent vs. 14.7 percent).
That's why, in 2010, a congregation member at Manchester United Methodist Church named Maurice Parisien came up with the idea for a program called Sneakers with Soul. "It was my vision to create a service ministry that would raise donations of new sneakers to put on the feet of kids in need as they begin their new school year," he says.
Now in its eighth year, Sneakers with Soul has donated more than 12,000 pairs of new sneakers and athletic footwear to kids in need throughout the St. Louis area since it began. The goal for 2017 is to raise cash and new sneaker donations to be able to place new sneakers on the feet of 2,500 children in the city of St. Louis through Kingdom House and Guardian Angel Settlement Association, and Operation Food Search. The ultimate mission of Sneakers with Soul is to ensure that one day no child will go back to school without a new pair of sneakers.
Now through August 6, 2017, Sneakers with Soul will be collecting donations of new sneakers and athletic footwear at Manchester United Methodist Church, located at 129 Woods Mill Rd. in Manchester, Mo. Donations can be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays or at any church service before August 6. In addition to new sneaker donations, the church is also accepting financial donations for Sneakers with Soul online at manchesterumc.org/sneakers. For donation questions, call 636-394-5706 or email [email protected].
To make shopping easy and affordable, the Adidas Outlet Store located in the St. Louis Premium Outlets in Chesterfield Valley has partnered with Sneakers with Soul to provide special discounts on top of their ongoing promotions to shoppers who are purchasing Adidas sneakers for Sneakers with Soul. Shoppers can save even more by shopping during Missouri's Sales Tax Holiday weekend, August 4 through 6.
KidSmart, another area charity with a back-to-school focus will kick off its annual Push for Pencils in August, the largest school supply drive of its kind in Missouri. Each year, 500,000 essential school supplies are collected and directly distributed to thousands of local children in need through the KidSmart Free Educational Supply Store. Since opening in 2002, KidSmart has distributed more than $30 million worth of free school supplies and educational materials to more than 100,000 St. Louis children in need. For information on how to help, visit kidsmartpushforpencils.org.
Amy Burger is a mom, freelance writer and communications professional with nearly 20 years experience working in St. Louis. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and media outlets including STL Parent, Missouri Life magazine, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Town & Style and kdhx.org, among others. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two beautiful girls at home in Kirkwood.