Ensuring area preschoolers and students have what they need to be successful starts with the basics, including the right pair of shoes to wear each day. For many years, Troy Rotary Club has helped local students get the shoes they need through their Shoe Project. When the Shoe Project first began, Rotarian Stewart Lipp (1934-2014) was the chairman. He would welcome the students, and their families, to his store, David’s Shoes in downtown Troy, and made sure the fit was perfect for every child. After he retired and closed the store, the Troy Rotary Club began collaborating with Troy City Schools and Partners in Hope to make sure that children who need shoes get them quickly and easily. “Depending on the demand, 50-60 pairs of shoes are provided throughout the school year,” explained Melissa Kleptz, Rotarian and chair of the Shoe Project. She noted that, since the project first began, the club has provided hundreds of pairs of shoes to students in the Miami Valley area.
Each year, Rotary and the Troy Rotary Foundation deliver vouchers for the Shoe Carnival at 1855 West Main Street in Troy to local school administrators and teachers to distribute to students, based on several criteria. Kleptz explained that the vouchers allow the kids and their families to select shoes that meet the needs of athletes, academics and active students, including high school age. During the Christmas season, Partners in Hope provides an estimated $800 of shoes to area preschool children, thanks to Rotary’s support.
This project isn’t the only way Rotarians provide shoes to local children. Each August, the Club sponsors a weeklong Wildlife Camp at Brukner Nature Center for 10-15 kids in Troy. As part of the camp experience, each child receives two pairs of shoes. “The kids who participate in the camp get waterproof Crocs for exploring the creek, plus socks and athletic shoes they can wear to school,” said Deb Oexmann, Executive Director at BNC and Troy Rotarian. “Each pair of shoes is sized to fit the camper properly,” Oexmann added.
Along with providing shoes, Rotarians and the Troy Rotary Foundation support several community projects annually and distributed more than $11,000 in scholarships and community aid in 2013-14. You can follow the Club’s activities on their Troy Rotary Club Facebook page.