The Russellville Rotary Foundation is starting up its fund drive for the upcoming school year and the Happy Feet = Learning Feet program, which gives free shoes to needy children.
Letters asking for support of the program have already gone out to many in the community.
This will be the fifth year for the program, which has given out 1,197 pairs of free shoes to children the past four years.
“Our two school superintendents and the family resource personnel at the various schools have been wonderful to coordinate this project,” said Jim Riley, project chairman for the Rotary Club. “We wound up giving out pairs of shoes to the neediest young people and provided additional shoes throughout the year to those that the schools thought was in an emergency situation where they needed help.”
In addition to the Happy Feet program, the Rotary also started supporting a second, similar project three years ago - Project Warm.
Project Warm provided good winter coats to many of those same children. In the three years Operation Warm has been going, some 696 coats have been given out to deserving students.
Most of the money for the two programs comes through community donations. This year the Rotary is hoping to raise sone $17,500 to fund the programs.
“Las year it cost over $16,000 and the costs have rose this year,” Riley said
One of the most impressive aspects of that program is that the children receiving the coats and shoes are not recognizable by them.
Riley said that this year there will be 24 different patterns of coats and five different patterns of shoes for the children to pick from.
“There was all kinds of patterns, so the kids won’t be stereotyped for having a free coat or free shoes,” Riley said.
Rotary is sending out letters to many in the community asking for help with both these projects.
All contributions will go directly to buying shoes and coats for needy children in the community and they are tax deductible.
Riley said Rotary is expecting to help about the same number of children this year.
“We think the needs will be pretty close to the same,” he said. “We don’t know until we get them in school though.”
Once school starts in the next few days, the family resource directors will identify the children they feel are the most needy.
If you would like to make a donation, it can be mailed to the Russellville Rotary Foundation, c/o Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC, CPAs, 167 South Main Street, Russellville, KY 42276.