For the 10th consecutive year, Cumberlands’ staff and students conducted the program Shoes 4 the Soul.
This year’s program consisted of donating shoes, socks, t-shirts, and hygiene items to approximately 550 students across several elementary schools, including Pleasant View, Pine Knot, Boston, Whitley North, Whitley East, Whitley Central, and Williamsburg Independent elementary schools. Cumberlands staff and students brought the items directly to the schools to be handed out by their family resource officers to the children who needed the items.
“Shoes 4 the Soul helps these children in a few different ways,” said Caitlyn Howell, director of Appalachian Ministries, who has organized the program for the last few years. “I think the biggest thing is the shoes. Shoes are a distinctive thing that builds confidence for the kids. We’re meeting some essential needs, but we’re also meeting the psychological needs for these kids by providing a brand-new pair of shoes. In some ways, we’re reaching beyond physical needs and helping build confidence that they will carry with them into their future.”
All Cumberlands’ undergraduate students participate in various community service opportunities each semester, supporting the university’s mission of impacting others in positive ways while teaching students leadership through service. Shoes 4 the Soul is just one event that allows Cumberlands students to give back to their community and serve the children in it.
“The kids are always excited,” said Tammy Stephens, the family resource director for Williamsburg Independent School District. “Most of the kids receiving these shoes don’t get any other pairs of shoes outside of what they get from our family resource center. Little boys especially wear through their shoes quickly with how hard they play. This gives them a good pair of shoes to wear every day.”
Cumberlands has made a campus-wide goal to support at least 500 students each year with shoes and other essential items. It costs just $30 to provide a child with shoes, socks, t-shirts, and hygiene products at Shoes 4 the Soul. To sponsor a child, visit ucumberlands.edu/shoes4soul/give. For more information on Cumberlands’ community service initiatives, visit ucumberlands.edu/community-service.