When children arrive for their first day of school, Kilgore Rotarians want them in brand new shoes and socks, ready for a fresh start to the year.

Once again, the local civic group is pairing their annual shoes-and-socks giveaway with the school supplies drive spearheaded by First Presbyterian Church. Both outreaches are set in the midst of Kilgore ISD’s One-Stop Registration at Kilgore Primary School Aug. 1-2.

Children who qualify for free or reduced lunches at school are also eligible for the school supplies giveaway and, consequently, Rotary’s contribution.

“Those students who are qualified to receive school supplies can come and be measured,” says Linda Sartor, Kilgore Rotary Club’s president for 2019-2020. Then, “We will hand out the shoes on Saturday, Aug. 3, in the Fellowship Hall of First Baptist Church in Kilgore.”

The tentative time frame for the shoe distribution is 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. that Saturday.

“We’ll take care of those kiddoes and they’ll get new shoes and socks and supplies and be ready to go to school,” Sartor added. “It lifts those little minds and spirits. They feel, ‘OK, we’ve got something new to begin school with.’ You walk in that classroom and all the children have on new shoes and socks.

“It levels the playing field – they don’t feel singled out.”

More than a month out, Rotarians have already started purchasing some of the year’s inventory, stockpiling boys and girls shoes in various sizes.

“We started right after the first of July,” Sartor noted. Depending on their measurements Thursday and Friday during registration, children typically have a variety of styles to choose from (first-come, first-served) during Saturday’s actual giveaway. “We gave away 470 pairs of shoes last year.”

Unfortunately, that number was substantially less than how many signed up.

“We had 673 that parents requested or we measured the feet. Only about 70 percent were picked up.”

That said, it means the club has shoes in hand as it starts accruing more for early August’s event.

“If we give away 600 pairs, that would be great. They gave away 1,000 bags of school supplies last year,” Sartor said. “One of the things our Rotary International president wants this year is for Rotary to have an impact with the community, for the community to know how we connect” on an international, state and local level.

Anyone who wishes to contribute funds to the back-to-school drive should make their checks out to First Presbyterian Church, designated for ‘school supplies.’

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