What is the impact a pair of shoes has on a homeless child? These shoes belong to a little girl of the tender age of 5. She received these shoes for a Christmas gift one of our amazing donors sponsored. These shoe are obviously not fit for wear, yet she shows up in them with a smile on her face everyday at summer camp.
YES... 7 months later, worn daily with pride because this is the only pair of shoes she owns that Santa brought her to wear. She is happy and go lucky, running around in her worn out shoes.
The unfortunate truth is that she is actually one of the LUCKY one's at camp!! She has a pair of shoes. She doesn't come barefoot like many others, or in mismatched slippahs, or ones that are too big or small. She has a real pair of shoes.
The sad reality is these shoes represent so many homeless children on our island. These children go unnoticed and hidden in the shadows, but they are out there in the thousands!
This little boy is 5. I wish I had the camera rolling when he arrived at camp. His father brought him late, so I was walking him along the path back to the pavilion to get his swimsuit and shoes one to join his camp buddies in the water. As we were walking he was explaining to me that he has new slippahs. They are made for a 10 year old but he could still wear them. He explained his father told him that he needed not to lose them because they needed to last him until he was 10. He continued to say he was ok wearing them, they were big but he could still wear them. As we went along the path, I thought... I need to share this story. I tried to get him to re say everything he had, but everyone knows a child speaks... not necessarily on cue.
The importance of shoes to a child who lives in extreme poverty and homelessness is definitely a worry. A child of this young age should not have to worry if he loses his shoes now, he won't have any until he is 10. He continued to let me know he could not lose these shoes because they were made for a 10 year old and that is really a long time.
Project Hawai’i, Inc. always puts shoes in every backpack for our homeless children so they can be assured to go back to school ready to succeed.
Almost a decade ago Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle made it a law that each child who plays on the playground or in PE must have closed toe shoes. The law was passed because children were getting injured playing with sports equipment while in their slippahs. Well in Hawaii 99% of children are raised in slippahs as their footwear... and those who have no money can afford a few dollars for a pair of slippahs.
So as with most of programs, they are designed by NEED, not WANT, but actually out of a necessity of a new law or regulation created without concern for the overwhelmingly amount of homeless or poverty stricken children in which it will effect. Since this law, we have always provided shoes throughout the school year to assure our children have the confidence they need to continue their educational journey.
We are so grateful for the community who comes together to assure we are able to purchase the shoes needed to fit each child. The $25-$45 donation provides a stylish pair of shoes suitable for school, sports and walking in comfort. We have children of all sizes and ages, and each child is able to receive a new pair of shoes to head back to school in.
We have been asked why we just don't do a shoe drive, or collect used shoes as children grow so fast. There are many reasons why, but the most important reason is that wearing to correct size shoe for the child's foot helps with their over all growth and health. Most injuries and childhood developments, such as bone structure, posture, knee issues, etc are all caused by improper fit OR worn shoes, or those shoes who have conformed to another foot pattern. There are hundreds of sites out there with these facts, but here is a link as well. https://healthyfeetforlife.com/blog/item/44-the-importance-of-proper-fitting-shoes.html
Our team actually searches the island stores for the correct sizes for each of the children in their area. Finding the correct shoes at a bargin price whenever possible. We take the time to truly find the correct size, along with the style and color each child would enjoy. Our team leaders know their children, they bond with them and learn to know what they like and don't like. This is just another step to show each child they are cared for, about and they are WORTH IT.
Can you imagine getting a new pair of shoes in the wrong size, and a color you just really don't like? Yes, our children are homeless, they are poverty stricken, they rarely have the opportunity of a new pair of shoes.... but they are also humans with feelings, likes and dislikes. They are grateful for what they get, but they are OVERJOYED when it is their favorite color, or their favorite character and actually fit their size for their age.
These boys play basketball in High School, great players, and deserve the shoes to keep them playing. They received a new pair of shoes in size 13 and 15 this year that are actually made to play on the team. Such a blessing to a set of brothers who have a future, just need the little support along the way to make it all happen.
Mahalo to everyone who has joined our efforts to keep our keiki clean and healthy with our shoe program. To find out more, please follow this link https://www.helpthehomelesskeiki.org/healthy-hearts