Local Walmart employees join with nonprofit to provide foot washing, free shoes to elementary school kids

WASHINGTON CITY — Hundreds of students at Coral Canyon Elementary School had their feet washed and received new shoes from local Walmart employees Tuesday morning as part of a global effort to provide shoes for children and spread “love, hope and inspiration.”

Walmart employees wash kids’ feet at a Samaritan’s Feet event at Coral Canyon Elementary School, Washington City, Utah, April 16, 2019 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

Every child at the school participated in the event, including some teachers. The kids were brought to the gymnasium one grade at a time by a volunteer, who would spend about five minutes with each child, washing their feet and having a personal conversation with them. The volunteer would place a brand new pair of socks and tennis shoes on the child’s feet.

“I think it’s just amazing that all the kids in the grade get to have this opportunity to get their feet washed, have a conversation, and be able to get new shoes and socks,” fifth-grader Preston Tolma said. “This means a lot because there’s a lot of people that can’t afford brand new shoes and this is amazing.”

The event was funded by Walmart and coordinated through Samaritan’s Feet, a nonprofit dedicated to providing shoes to children around the world to benefit their education and health. Samaritan’s Feet partners with a variety of businesses and organizations to host foot-washing events like the one at Coral Canyon Elementary in communities across the U.S.

Around 150 employees from the Walmart stores in Bloomington, Washington City and Hurricane, as well as the Walmart Distribution Center in Hurricane, volunteered at the event, washing 672 pairs of feet.

“I think it’s awesome. I really love these new shoes and I’m really looking forward to doing new stuff with these cool shoes. I really love these guys; they’re really awesome,” fourth-grader Zachary Moss said.

A Walmart mascot high-fives kids as they go to a Samaritan’s Feet event at Coral Canyon Elementary School, Washington City, Utah, April 16, 2019 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

The significance of washing the kids’ feet is both a symbol of service and a way for volunteers to connect with each student.

“It’s a service. It really shows the kids we care, and it makes it fun for them. It kind of adds to the element of giving them shoes,” said Mike Robbings, general manager of the Hurricane Walmart Distribution Center. “It’s funny to watch them if they have ticklish feet or to talk about their stories. It’s a lot of fun to wash and do that.”

This year marks the third year that Walmart, a corporate partner with Samaritan’s Feet, has provided shoes to a Washington County school. They have previously held events at Legacy Elementary School and LaVerkin Elementary School.

During their partnership, which started in 2015, Samaritan’s Feet and Walmart have held 71 shoe distributions in 43 different cities across the U.S., said Denise Blomberg, Samaritan’s Feet regional director. Together, they’ve now distributed nearly 26,000 pairs of shoes. Total, Samaritan’s Feet has distributed 7 million pairs of shoes around the world.

“The work that we do is so important. … A lot of times in today’s day in age we’re judging kids by the shoes they wear, the clothes they wear, and we want to level the playing field for everyone,” Blomberg said. “That’s why we distribute shoes to every child in the school. We’re not preferential, because we think it’s important for everyone to have a new pair of shoes.”

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Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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