Palm Springs Unified School District Foundation distributes 2,000 pairs of free sneakers to students in need

Thanks to contributions from local organizations, businesses, and individual donors, $50,000 was raised this year, enabling the foundation to purchase and distribute the shoes during what is now an annual event.
Marbella Arauz Lopez helps as her son Benjamin (center) and daughter Lunabella try on shoes Wednesday at Palm Springs Unified School District headquarters. On the right is PSUSD Foundation Director Ellen Goodman, dressed appropriately in a shoe costume.

Thousands of students have received free shoes thanks to the generosity of the community and the efforts of the Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD) Foundation.

On Wednesday, 400 students benefited form the program at an event at district headquarters in Palm Springs. In total, the foundation expects to donate 2,000 pairs of Converse sneakers to students in need this year. The efforts are part of the Shoes for Students project, which is in its second year.

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Foundation Director Ellen Goodman explained that the project started when she mentioned to a donor that shoes are one of the most requested items by parents during the holiday toy drive. “I was shocked,” Goodman said. “I never would have thought shoes were in such high need.”

Luckily, the donor’s father had once owned a shoe store, and he knew how important a good pair of shoes was to give a student confidence. The donor pledged to match $25,000 in donations. Last year, $75,000 was raised, and 2,500 pairs of shoes were purchased.

Goodman said about 12% of the student population is considered homeless because they live in shelters, motels, cars, or with family and friends. The Student Services staff identify families that are considered homeless to inform them about the Shoes for Students program.

The foundation raised another $50,000 this year from Bighorn Cares, Amazon, other nonprofits, and individual donors. Converse then offered the shoes at a much-discounted price.

More shoes were given out earlier this month at back-to-school events throughout the district. Goodman said she expects the event to continue for years to come.

“It’s so successful,” she noted, “and the smaller donation levels have allowed a new group to donate and make a difference.”


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