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School collecting shoes, money for PCS kids in need

Brian Powers - bpowers@perutribune.com

For the sixth straight year, Kicks for Kids will be collecting shoes for the children of Peru Community Schools who need them.

Helmed by Peru High School Art Teacher Mike Applegate, the program has already handed out over 800 pairs of shoes in less than a decade. This year’s goal is to collect 100 pairs of shoes and $500, Applegate said.

“This is a foundation we started six years ago,” he said. “We’re just trying to raise money and shoes for the kids who need it.”

Applegate said the idea came when he was head of the cheer block six years ago and he wanted to do something for the kids in the corporation and he noticed some kids even had duct tape holding their footwear together.

“I want new shoes because some of these kids have never had a brand new pair of shoes,” Applegate said.

PHS will be collecting shoes and monetary donations all week through Secretary Brooke Sheets, and will end the week of collecting at the PHS/Plymouth basketball game Friday evening, where an area for collection will be set up.

“If someone just wants to come and donate, but not pay to watch the game, all they’ll need to do is let someone at the door know and they’ll take you to the donation area,” Applegate said.

According to Applegate, the elementary and junior high schools are participating in the drive internally with their faculty and students able to donate, with the teachers who donate at least $10 or a pair of shoes being able to wear jeans to work for a week – a nice reprieve from standard teacher dress.

The entire process is also anonymous, which avoids embarrassing any child who needs the new shoes.

“Say a teacher sees a kid in the hallway walking with shoes that need replaced,” Applegate said. “He or she will call the guidance counselor, who then calls me and I’ll go out and buy the shoes; it’s all completely anonymous.”

Applegate also said, save any extraordinary circumstances such as an odd size, he buys as many shoes as he can locally.

“I try to keep the money local, so I’ll buy them at K-mart,” he said.

Applegate said K-mart has been great and they “help out tremendously” with his program, also giving recognition to Peru-based company Decision Information Systems, Inc., who has been a supporter of the program.

“The administration backs us wholeheartedly,” Applegate said. “It’s all about the kids.”